* Admissibility date reflects the date the case was officially registered. All other dates pertain to the date in which a stage was completed.
On 5 March 2015, the EIB Complaints Mechanism (EIB-CM) received a complaint regarding the Son Dureta Hospital project in Mallorca, Spain. The complainants alleged that Son Dureta/Son Espases Hospital had been illicitly built on a protected historical site in the close vicinity of Santa Maria de la Real Monastery, which according to the complainants is considered to be a protected historical building. The complainants stated that the Committee of the Mallorca Island Council had reduced the size of the protected natural area surrounding the monastery in order to specifically create a site for the healthcare facility. In this context, the complainants took the view that the Government of the Balearic Islands, the Mallorca Island Council and the Municipality of Palma had illegally modified the General Urban Development Plan of 19 May 2006 in order to convert the land adjacent to the monastery into constructible urban land for the construction of Son Dureta Hospital.
The complainants referred to several ongoing court proceedings against the project that mainly contested the modification of the Urban Development Plan, the use of land in the vicinity of the Monastery for the medical facility and its construction permit. In this context, the complainants wondered if the EIB was aware of the legal proceedings and took the view that the project was in breach of EIB environmental standards and its project approval criteria.
In light of the complainant’s concerns, EIB-CM carried out a review of the complainant’s allegations and examined the documentation provided by the complainant, the EIB’s services and the project borrower. EIB-CM liaised with the EIB’s operational services and held internal consultation meetings with a view to obtaining further information. In addition, EIB-CM reviewed the EIB appraisal and due diligence on the project in relation to the concerns raised.
Conclusions and Recommendations
On the basis of the information gathered by EIB-CM, it is to be noted that, during the appraisal of the project, the EIB had acknowledged the fact that the project falls under Annex II of the EIA Directive on urban development and that it was the decision
of the Competent Authority to screen it for a full EIA. The Competent Authority did screen the project in and required a full EIA including public consultation. In this regard, the EIB verified that the full EIA had been carried out together with a public consultation. EIB-CM takes note that not only the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) but also the changes in the Urban Development Plan had taken into consideration the historical heritage elements of the project’s location and those related to the monastery.
Following the EIA process as well as subsequent studies, further mitigation measures regarding visual impacts had been included and subsequently implemented. EIB-CM takes note that in line with the EIB’s standards, relevant conditions had been incorporated into the Finance Contract for the first and subsequent disbursements as part of the EIB’s due diligence. Therefore, EIB-CM takes note that, prior to the first disbursement, the EIB had received copies of the relevant environmental and non-environmental approvals and permits that had been issued by the national competent authorities and that the EIB’s services had conducted its due diligence accordingly.
With regard to the legal proceedings highlighted by the complainant EIB-CM takes note that, in line with EIB standards and contractual obligations, the project promoter had periodically updated the Bank on the ongoing legal proceedings in relation to the project. EIB-CM takes note that the EIB had closely followed up the reported legal proceedings through its monitoring function. In addition, the EIB had hired an independent legal firm to follow up and report on the ongoing legal proceedings and to assess possible risks in this respect. It is important to highlight that the courts had not taken the precautionary measure of suspending the construction while the proceedings were still ongoing. Therefore, without a final judgment by the Spanish courts, the EIB had considered that any action from its side in this respect would have been premature and without sufficient justification.
In light of the reported findings and the allegations communicated by the complainant, the EIB-CM considers that the project concerned followed the EIB’s applicable standards and procedures when conducting its appraisal and due diligence. At this stage, EIB-CM has not found evidence of maladministration and lack of due diligence by the EIB.
The submitted complaint also challenged some decisions issued by the national authorities concerning compliance with the applicable law. In this context, the EIB-CM is not competent to investigate complaints concerning international organisations or national authorities. National accountability mechanisms are the competent fora for assessing allegations related to national authorities.
EIB-CM recommends that the EIB’s services follow up the developments of the remaining ongoing national court proceedings with a view to assessing the possible impact of a court decision on the project and on the project’s compliance with national law.