I’m a strange person. No one needs to tell me this. It’s good to be self aware. But sometimes strange pays dividends.
Trolling the Xunta
During la pandemia I began reading every Spanish newspaper online. It was the best way to gain a well-rounded perspective on the situation. Especially since the pandemic was so highly politicized around the world. The politicization of science. Almost unthinkable. I read everything. Every study. Every link to an infographic. I certainly had the time.
Economies around the globe were decimated. But the EU did something they wouldn’t normally do. Instead of austerity, they decided to borrow and spend their way out of the economic impacts of the pandemic. To pump money into the economies of the countries hardest hit by it. Countries like Spain and Italy. Spain took that money and distributed it to the Autonomous communities, with a few criteria they would have to follow to award aid amongst their populous. Spain, like the EU, is using these funds to transform their economy to a green economy. The acceleration of which has only been super charged by the war in Ukraine and Europe’s loss of Russian natural gas and oil. Much of the EU natural gas supplies now come from North Africa, via a Spanish pipeline. Making Spain key to Northern European heating this winter. When Eurosceptics whine about sovereignty I laugh. This is precisely why the EU, while imperfect, works. And it will be interesting to see how Africa continues to transform as an economic powerhouse in a post-colonial era. China is spending billions to ensure they have influence and access. And Spain and the EU are doing the same to have a seat at the African continental table.
But What About Us?
So I used the pandemic to learn a lot about Spain, and the EU. As well as our local province – especially Galicia. And buried at the end of each if these articles was a reference to the various schemes the Xunta de Galicia was creating to make these funds available to businesses and common folk – like me. So, I clicked through, and lo and behold, there was a list of projects eligible for EU pandemic funds dedicated to Spain – and, more specifically, Galicia. So, I clicked in, again. To each and every one of them. Sure, it was tedious. But also interesting and educational. Nothing tells the true story of legislative priorities as much as when politicians put their money where their mouth is. It was then that I spotted it. Green energy.
We want to install solar panels for our home and business. As well as wind power. We had a bid from a solar contractor and we were waiting for permission from the Concello, and the Patrimonio for the Camino de Santiago. The deadline for applying for the solar panels was rapidly approaching last year, so I filled out the grant form and applied for the EU funds for our project via my digital certificate. Though not Spanish citizens, we are full fledged tax paying residents. We pay tens of thousands of euros in taxes here every year. Whether they would give the grant to us is one thing, but we qualify for the funds.
In the meantime, I read how Spain was in a bit of trouble with the EU. They were struggling to hand out the funds. Firstly, because of the famous Spanish bureaucracy. But, secondly, because they wanted rigorous checks in place to avoid fraud, like all those PPP loans in the US during the pandemic that went to cronies of politicians and did nothing to help struggling people. So the process was slowed.
My perpetual bureaucracy rash since moving to Spain didn’t even bother to itch over this grant money. I knew it was a long shot. I was more proud of myself for even finding the list and applying for it. There are other incentives, too. Women-owned businesses. And on and on.
Last week I was disappointed to learn my food truck, that didn’t need a license, was denied a license by the guy who told me exactly this time last year that I didn’t need a license. Yeah, I know. Read it slowly. There’s math involved.
As a result of this, Fergus and I walked into town to meet face to face with our contractor so I could better understand where we are at with the three agencies that make of the lasagna of opening a business on the Camino de Santiago. The Concello. The Turismo. And, finally, the Patrimonio. Kind of like Cristofer Columbus on The Niña, The Pinta, and The Santa Maria, this has been a journey into the unknown. Uncharted waters, even, in some cases, for our contractor, Diego. Here is where we stand.
~ The food truck license has been denied by the Concello. Even though they said a food truck needs no licence.
~ But, to get around this, the food truck has now been bundled into the larger Albergue project. And that project has been, provisionally approved by the turismo. Can you hear angels singing right about now? Because I can.
~ The approved plans have been filed and approved with the Architectural College in Santiago.
~ The entire project has been reviewed by the Patrimonio, but we don’t yet have a decision. Likely, some time this month ‘But we don’t know, Kelli. However, because they have reviewed it, when 30 days go by without a decision I can begin shouting.’
~ The Patrimonio will go with what tourism says (and tourism has provisionally approved it) except I must comply with the Patrimonio’s architecture standards.
~ If the Patrimonio and turismo approve the over all project, that will pressure the Concello to reverse their decision and grant me a license that they told me I do not need.
~ Once the construction is completed, the turismo will come out and sign off. Then, I can open.
After all that, this week Diego will go to the ayuntamiento (town hall) of the Concello and show them the Architecture College’s approval, and the turismo’s approval. And he will ask for a provisional license for the food truck based on these trump cards, and to begin construction on the bathroom, laundry room, and water system (yes, we still don’t have that). There is a glimmer of light through this long dark winter. And then, he had more good news.
It’s Not All Bad News
That solar grant from last year. That rando thing I applied for nearly a year ago? Yeah, that. It was approved! And the Xunta is giving me – or the business- money for our solar panels. What?!? 😁Happy doesn’t describe it.
Tomorrow the solar panel people are coming out to determine placement and ground prep, and to lay out the plan for trenching. The work is supposed to begin shortly after that. And the plumber is coming with Diego to talk about the first phase of work on our planned laundry/bathrooms, after speaking to the Concello.
I hardly know how to feel. Or what to feel. In the beginning I thought it was a linear process. We do step 1-10. But, its a long and winding road of opacity, misdirection, and confusion. We might be nearing a finish line, of sorts. Or, it might all be just beginning. But, either way, I got my solar grant, and my Pilgrims will have unlimited hot water and heat/AC in their cabins, at zero cost to us or the environment. After waking up to a dusting of snow ❄️ this morning, that’s all I needed to hear.
2 thoughts on “Just What I Needed To Hear”
I can’t say I’m surprised it all ends up this way – but it’s hard to even think this is the path the approvals would ever have followed. This is not for the faint of heart!
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Right?! Hierarchies within hierarchies. And it still depends in what dude you get at the requisite agency – and they are ALL dudes – who will interpret the rules and apply them differently to you and your project than anyone else or their buddy down the road.
I am still surprised I was denied last week. But this week I may be able to get provisional approval because of other approvals by other agencies. Wouldn’t you think there would be a coordinated approval process? Or at least a ‘this is who must approve first, second, third…? No wonder I don’t know how to feel. Because last week I was in despair. This week I’m getting solar panels for free. I have learned that its not over until its built. And even then… more like Its not over until the police stop harassing me.