Flights v flamingos: can Barcelona wildlife reserve survive airport expansion?

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Billion-dollar development threatens the future of one of the western Mediterranean’s most important wetlands

The silence is so complete it is easy to forget you are only a few minutes’ drive from the centre of Barcelona. Just the sough of the willows in the sea breeze, the splash of a fish surfacing and a heron’s cry – until the serenity is obliterated by a plane taking off.

The Delta del Llobregat, one of the most important wetlands in the western Mediterranean, is being eroded on one side by the sea and on the other by the city’s land-hungry airport. As travel to Spain is still restricted, there are few flights and it is possible to revel in the delta’s almost mesmeric tranquillity. But before the pandemic there were already close to 90 flights an hour and, if the airport authority has its way, this will increase still further.

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