In Paradela (Lugo) the wine exploitations have been disappearing, but the population has found a new source of employment and wealth: the wind park that is being installed.
The history and natural charm of Paradela is closely linked to the more than ten centuries that the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago has been circulating through these lands in the centre-south of the province of Lugo. Thanks to this, the municipality is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and aspires to be one of the towns that make up the Ribeira Sacra, known for its numerous Romanesque constructions. In this enclave is beginning to erect, in harmony with the environment, a wind farm that will give green energy to pilgrims and locals and that adds to the two parks that are already under construction in the province of Lugo.
In an area of approximately 120 km2 lives a population of 2,143 inhabitants, although the data have not ceased to decline in recent years. “We are going to continue to decrease the population. However, we are in expectations of being producers of clean energy. Finally, the parks being built by Endesa, through Enel Green Power España, are a reality, with an investment of more than 60 million euros, which has repercussions for the residents”, says José Luis Mato, mayor of Paradela.
To speak of the Ribeira Sacra is to speak of wine. Its landscape is usually marked by the well-known “socalcos”, vineyards in terraces situated on the slopes of the mountains. “Here we make wine without adding any chemicals”, says Benjamín Rodriguez, one of the region’s viticulturists. But in the case of Paradela, the most important wine-growing exploitations have been disappearing with time due to the increase in water from the reservoir, which also flooded many villages in the area, forcing its inhabitants to emigrate. “There were vineyards, but now there is nothing, now there is nothing. Only water,” laments Benjamin.
Currently the small population of this Lugo municipality lives very dispersed. “We need associations that are dedicated to uniting people,” says María Rocío Domínguez, president of the Women’s Association of Paradela. Accustomed to living surrounded by nature, associations like hers have welcomed with open arms the wind farm for being a clean energy, which unites and gives life to the people. “Seeing companies arrive, people interested in rentals, supermarkets full of people shopping, cafeterias with people eating or drinking coffee. For me that’s wonderful,” says María Rocío. In addition, Endesa has installed a biomass stove in the Women’s Association so that the cold winter does not separate the women of Paradela.
For the construction of the wind farm has relied on the labor of the people. This is the case of Carlos Lopez, who was born one kilometer from where the park is located and is now civil works supervisor of it. “I presented the curriculum, my working conditions improved and I knew it clearly,” he says. For him, living in Paradela is no limitation, quite the opposite. “I’ve always loved the countryside and I’m glad I stayed,” he says.
The works for which Carlos is supervisor began in April and when the wind farm comes into operation at the end of this year, it will generate energy equivalent to the consumption of more than 10,000 families. As he points out, “as we live today it is impossible to live without energy and renewable energies are the best option we have”.
Energy for tourism
In addition to the advantages of renewable energy and the contribution to employment, the park that Enel Green Power España is building in Paradela has a strong social orientation. In this sense, the City Council has entered the capital of the company and participates with 10%. “We bet on renewable energies so that the citizens of Paradela can have a better quality of services. In other words, it is wealth for the world and for us”, says the mayor.
The City Council proposed to Endesa that it would be advisable to take some action to attract tourism. It was thus decided to promote the values of the area with the improvement of a hiking route that runs near the Camino de Santiago, with a length of 16 kilometers parallel to the river Miño, the so-called Loio Route, declared of social interest. “Endesa is going to carry out this El Camino project with an investment of 150,000 euros and pieces of El Camino that have been abandoned since time immemorial will be recovered,” emphasizes the mayor