Collserola park to gain an extra 779 hectares and has been promoted to natural park status (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). A statement released yesterday put an end to a 20 year lawsuit put forward by neighbours and environmentalists. The new park will now extend to 780 hectares, bringing the total of the park area to 8,295 and includes two specially protected nature reserves, Font Groga and Rierada-Can Balsac and formalises financing from the Generalitat, which according to the Minister of Environment, Francesc Baltasar will be around €700,000 in 2011. Marià Martí, manager of the consortium said of the new law, "This is the most difficult area to protect in Catalunya". Vice-president, Josep Perpinyà explained that, "this gives us a greater degree of conservation. It is a recognition of the work we've done." The new status will allow the Environment ministry to help formulate plans for its special protection and will address issues such as speed limits for bicycles. It can also implement fines for antisocial behaviour. According to Perpinyà, the biggest challenge will be to harmonise the use of the park, which received around two million visitors last year, and the promotion of biodiversity.
Zapatero to prepare an extensive government reshuffle (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The Prime Minister, José Rodríguez Zapatero, is today preparing for an extensive remodelling of his government that is to affect five ministerial departments. The main change would affect the First Vice-President, presently occupied by María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, will now be taken over by Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba who would retain his Interior department as well as taking on the role of Government spokesman, according to reports circulating in political circles in Madrid this morning. Ramón Jauregui would become Minister of the Presidency whilst the Minister of Health, Trinidad Jiménez will replace Miguel Ángel Moratinos at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Zapatero is thought to be reshuffling in order to gain some momentum in order to overcome possible political erosion due to the crisis. The abolition of the Ministry of Housing will be integrated into the Development department. The reaction to the reshuffle has been met with silence with many ministers refusing to comment on the rumours. Celestino Corbacho, the only positional change that has been announced by Zapatero, who is now left to run for a seat on the PSC in the Catalan regional elections, refused to comment on his supposed replacement, Valeriano Gómez but said only that he was a good person and friend.
Jurisdiction of regional trains will fall under the Government from January 1st, 2011 (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). After 10 months an agreement between José Montilla, President of the Generalitat and José Blanco, Minister of Public works was reached yesterday which means that trains that now travel to Girona, Tarragona and Lleida will be managed by the government. However discrepancies in the transfer of grants and the difficulty in closing a list of infrastructure that would be carried out with funds from the third additional provision, among other issues have prevented a conclusion before yesterdays meeting. Another issue that will remain on the table is the transfer of high-speed services that circulate in Catalunya.
10 of the 23 scientists from Spain, selected this year by the European Research Council (ERC) are from Catalunya (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia).The results of the notification, made public yesterday ranked Spain by number of projects as the seventh largest and fifth by its ability to attract top scientists from other countries. The ERC selects projects solely on scientific excellence, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research says, "Excellence is a prerequisite for achieving the 2020 European goal of sustainable growth in the EU." Lluís Torner, president of the Catalan Association for Research Entitats says, "These results are evidence that programmes such as Icrea, enables us to attract excellent researches who have been offered competitive working conditions", but warned that "in times of limited resources, we must safeguard excellence."