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Photo courtesy from El Observador

Pioneer ruling in Galicia: extension of concessions on the coast without retroactivity

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Friday, May 20, 2022, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

The decision of the TSXG constitutes a blow to the Ministry of Ecological Transition, which computed them from the granting of the concessions, which resulted in terms of 5 to 15 years. Experts predict a cascade of rulings in favor of the sea-industry sector in the community.
 
The Superior Court of Justice of Galicia has issued a pioneering ruling that cancels the retroactive calculation of the extensions of the concessions of costs, in addition to modifying the way in which the terms of these extensions must be calculated, responding to the request of a company with several aquaculture plants in Galicia and the regional sea-industry sector thanks to the work of the Cuatrecasas Galicia office.
 

Photo: Pescanova Group
 
With the aim of avoiding a massive expiration of the concessions granted in 1988 under the Coastal Law of that same year, which limited them to a maximum of 30 years from its entry into force, for which the expiration was indicated in 2018, in 2013 there was a reform that introduced an exceptional extension of up to 75 years from the request for this extension. Based on the 2014 Coastal Regulation, this maximum limit was set at 50 years in the case of aquaculture.

At first, broad extensions were granted, of 50 and 75 years, from their request; in the case of Ence, it was granted in 2016 until the 1960s of the 21st century. But the interpretation, based on some reports from the State Attorney, changed shortly after; the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge decreed that they be computed retroactively from the time the concession was granted, which led to extension periods that ranged between 5 and 15 years, causing great legal insecurity in the sea-industry sector.

Photo: Stolt Sea Farm Spain

Precisely, in the case of Ence, its territorial director in Galicia, Antonio Casal, presented this Wednesday an investment plan of nearly 400 million euros to improve efficiency and sustainability as long as the plant in Lourizán is maintained, based on the extension granted.
 
From the extension request
 
Now, with this unprecedented sentence, the TSXG agrees with a company with several aquaculture plants in Galicia, modifying the way in which these terms are computed. The court understands, as does the plaintiff, that the term must be computed from the date of the request for the extension, not from the date on which the concession was granted.
 
Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge
 
In addition, the sentence rejects the interpretation according to which a fifth part of the extension was reduced for locating facilities on the "shore of the sea". In this case, the TSXG considers that when only facilities for which the concession is granted are located in that strip, this limitation will not apply.
 
Therefore, with the previous criterion, a concession granted in 1989 whose extension had been requested in 2019, limited it until 2029; Based on this new interpretation based on the ruling of the TSXG, the term of the extension will begin to count from 2019, so the concession will extend until 2069.
 
"We understand that it is a very important sentence for the entire sector, which may be invoked by the many industries located on the coastal strip and that have seen their continuity threatened by the Ministry's criteria," says Cuatrecasas lawyer Isabel Bárbara.
 
"Many companies will be able to benefit from this sentence. It is something that had not yet been prosecuted, but we understand that a cascade of claims can now be expected in the sector," adds Bárbara.

Author / Source: Mauro Picatoste, Andrea Perez-Bouzada / El Español (article available only in spanish)

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