Spain’s Supreme Court upheld a four-year prison sentence and a 24-million-euro ($26.44 million) fine handed down to a local businessman for environmental damage caused while operating an opencast coal mine in northern Spain.
The court rejected an appeal by Victorino Alonso, owner of mining company Coto Minero Cantabrico, against a lower court sentence which convicted him for damage to the environment at the “Nueva Julia” mine in the Castile and Leon region, according to a court document released on Friday.
Alonso had a permit to exploit the mine between 2007 and 2010, but the court found that he used almost 19 hectares (47 acres) of protected land for which he had no authorization.
The court said the mine’s activity damaged more than 400 hectares of land and that Alonso made no effort to repair it.
“The impact is of such a scale that signs are visible to the naked eye, such as topographical changes, the destruction of the soil and of all vegetation, the existence of tailings dumps, or the blocking of stream beds by debris,” the court said.
Alonso, in a previous court hearing, had said he had not been aware of the extent of the damage caused by his company.
Coto Minero Cantabrico was previously known as Minero Siderurgica de Ponferrada. It filed for bankruptcy in 2013.