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Spend, Spend, Spend - fortunes wasted in Spain
13 August 2013 @ 22:43

The Spanish government and local governments have wasted billions of euros on useless structures over the passed years, so much so that they appear to be more like excuses for cashing in on big commissions. I ahve selected just a few of the projects that have wasted millions and millions of euros. Nearly all went over budget and the majority aren't even finished. Practically all of them loose money costing the tax payer even more just to maintain them. This is just the tip of the iceberg, like these there are dozens and dozens of multi-million euro projects that have gone to waste around the country: bridges that aren't used, new motorways that have no cars on them or aren't finished, even more redundant airports that recieved extensions, overhauls and even new terminals, when in some cases 200 flights were being cancelled every year due to bad weather or the airport received no more than 60,000 passengers, tram lines with no trams, a multiude of hospitals which aren't finished and teh list goes on, it is frightening how much money has been wasted and doesn't generate income. Everyone has heard of at least one or two white elephants, but the truth is, Spain is plagued with them, 10's of billions of euros down the drain and more than likely 10% in a pocket or a brown envelope.

Here goes :

Line 9 - Barcelona Underground - €16,000 million

This line was started ten years ago attempting to be the longest automatic metro line in the world. The line is intended to be 47km long but only 11 stops have been opened so far due to construction problems. This is the most expensive building project in Catalan history.



City of Culture - Santiago de Compostela - €400 Million

€400 million euros were spent on this project that was never finished. Only two of the 6 planned building were ever built and even they were not completely finished.As it stands it has a maintenance cost of €1,6million a year. The famous American architect who built it said " I hadn't realised how big it would actually turn out to be"!!! 


The "Mushrooms" - Seville - €123 Million

This huge sum of money went creating shade for a plaza by building the worlds largest wooden structure. It was 4 years  over due and went 70% over budget.


Ciudad Real Airport - €1,100 Million

This airport was built 200km south of Madrid. Designed to take 2.5 million passengers a year in its first year it only took 35,000. It is now closed and up for sale for just €100 million less than a tenth of the cost.


Centre of Arts - Alcorcón - €120 Million

This arts centre to date has cost €120 million, it is only 70% finished and 40% over budget already. Building has been stopped and it has been nicknamed "Alcorcon's Circus" as there was going to be a circus included in honour of the Mayor's father who was a clown.


City of Arts and Sciences - Valencia - €1,100 million

With an original budget of €300 million the world famous architect Calatrava managed to almost cuadruple it. The entire complex looses €5,4 million every month.


Ciudad de la Luz - Alicante - €265 million 

These international film studios never got of the ground and brings in virtually no income, it costs the government €1,8 million euros every month to keep it open.



Castellon Airport - €150 million

This airport was inaugurated without a license and no contracts for flights but it did have a statue of Carlos Fabra, the President of Castellón which cost €300,000. During the inaugural ceremony he was caught on camara saying to his grandchildren "do you like Grandad's airport?". Not one plane has ever landed. However the airport director earns €84,000 euros a year, more than the president of Spain!


Forum Barcelona 2004 - €2,190 million 

This exhibition cost an astronomical amount of money and it is now abandoned and virtually unused.


Huesca Airport - €40 million

You might say thats a bit more reasonable but it only handles 9 passenger a month now and in its best year recieved 5900 passengers. 


The Magic Box - Madrid - €300 million

This admittedly very smart multi-use sports centre certainly is magic and made €300 million euros disappear. This centre is used each year for the Madrid Tennis Open and the odd concert. It went €150 million over budget.


Velodrome - Palma de Mallorca - €100 million

A cycling track that has still not been approved by the International Cycling Union and is under investigation for corruption.


Expo Zaragoza - €700 million euros

This exhibition is now abandoned and all buildings have been sitting empty since 2008. There is a similar story with Expo Seville.

AVE train station - Yebes - Guadalajara - €10,5 million

It may not sound like much but Yebes has a population of 300 inhabitants and is just 11km from the capital. This is just one example but these useless stations are peppered all over the country. The Government has spent €45 Billion on high speed train infrastructure around the country, each kilometer cost between 12 and 30 million euros and each kilometer costs between 100,000 and 200,000 euros to maintain each year, which all adds up. Each line would need on average 9 million passengers to make it worth while, Madrid -Barcelona only draws in 5 million a year.

University Hospital of Asturias - €1300 million

Ok, it's a hospital but this new hospital was built to replace the old hospital but this time they made it smaller and surprise surprise they went over budget again...the original budget was €205 million.

Marina de Laredo - Cantabria - €90 million

Naturally there are still no boats or yachts in the marina. Mind you it is not the only one around the country, Valencia's city marina takes the biscuit but was justified becasue of the America's Cup.


The Steel Wood -  Cuenca - €8 million (the land was free)

This may not sound like much in comparison but this is what a local council spent on a multi-use structure which they have no idea what they are going to do with it. It is abandoned and there is a competition to see if anyone can come up with a good idea....they hadn't thought of it before buidling it. They just thought it would be nice...


As I said this is the tip of the iceberg !!!







Like 0


Hugh said:
13 August 2013 @ 22:49

Corvera airport

peter scott said:
17 August 2013 @ 08:46

Spain has been given billions from the ill run European union easy come easy go !!
They borrowed billions of euros at low interest rates-- never thought interest rates would go up because since joining the e/u they thought it was Christmas every day.

lynn said:
17 August 2013 @ 09:41

Why isn't this more widely known, it's about time the Spanish governments and councils were shown up throughout Europe and brought to account.

Don Lochnagar said:
17 August 2013 @ 10:03

I hope that for reasons of fairness you go through the over budget white elephants in the UK, like the Westminster extension.

Bob. said:
17 August 2013 @ 10:10

I agree Lynn but you would be surprised just how much tax payers money is wasted in the UK as well, a lot of which is wasted keeping terrorists "IN" the country, so Spain is not alone, in wasting money.

I suppose at least Spain generally speaking does not let anyone in to draw off there benefits and health service as we know, and expats generally put more money into the Spanish economy than they take out. Its not a perfect world i'm afraid.

david martin said:
17 August 2013 @ 10:33

The forum in Barcelona houses the natural history museum. It is hardly "abandoned and virtually unused"

mac75 said:
17 August 2013 @ 11:19

Hi Don Lochnagar I am afraid that I am not aware of the white elephants in the UK, I live in Spain and write about Spain, I don't think it is a question of fairness or not, just an observations that the whole nation now shares. Maybe you or someone else could bring some of those UK white elephants to light, as that kind of press never reaches Spain and I follow Spanish news more than the British news, that said I can't say I remember ever reading an article in the UK press on construction scandals.

Lynn, when talking about health benefits, here they they don't let anyone in but they steal it themselves and set their families and friends up on disability pensions and extended unemployment benefits, there has been a lot of corruption with the benefits schemes around the country, but that's a different story.

rob said:
17 August 2013 @ 11:54

when the money from the EU and from Building Licenses rolled into Spain/The authorities were largely quite uneducated ignorant people using the accounts systems of a small rural town
They did not care if projects were usefull or would be used but what the personal commission would be
The whole decision making /planning process broke down

Life in Vejer said:
17 August 2013 @ 12:50

We are talking about Spain here and what a really interesting article. I fail to see why others feel the need to reference the uk on this sort of matter as if that's at all relevant. Misguided sympathy to Spain's wows I think. Issues elsewhere do not excuse the appalling waste and miss use of money on projects in Spain.

We should all try to understand how Spain allows this sort of corrupt activity to exist and suggests how they stop it. Purely from a an EU tax payer perspective I am disgusted at the often flagrant abuse of Our tax euros. Any efforts to both highlight it and the suggest solutions to prevent it should always be applauded.

Dee said:
17 August 2013 @ 14:21

Agreed, Spain has misspent on an enormous scale. But what about the future - not one positive comment on how these buildings could in fact bring business into the country? Spain is well placed to host some magnificent events, just need to encourage some great ideas on how to make those 'white elephants' work for them or am I being far too optimistic?
Look at the Dome in Docklands London, everyone moaned about that for what seemed like an age. Now after its revamp into the 02 Arena, it seems to be packed to the rafters (capacity of 20,000 people) quite regularly. I admit I have no idea how much lottery money was lost on it or whether it has been or ever will be recouped, but at least it's not standing empty.
I know it’s hard to imagine at this stage, but if Spain can pull itself out of the mire before these amazing buildings become unfit for use who knows what could happen. Love Spain, and wish her good fortune for the future.

Robsmith said:
17 August 2013 @ 16:42

How about the new hospital in Guadalhorce? Complete and ready for use but no electricity supply and no one willing to fork out for the installation costs!,

ray-pc said:
17 August 2013 @ 19:36

UK white elephants, here are two. Blue steel rocket, many years ago and recently attempted upgrading of NHS computer system, now abandoned. millions of pounds spent on each without a favourable result. There are others!!

b crowe said:
17 August 2013 @ 21:02

I wish the government would spend some money on a litter cleaning campaign and do something about the appalling cruelty to animals. Also could the driving instructors teach their pupils properly re roundabouts, using some commonsense when driving round blind corners and being considerate to other drivers!!
Just wanted to get that off my chest, bit tired as woken up by yet another stupid motorist who thinks it ok to blare his horn outside at 5.30am!
Another waste of money was the tram system in Velez Malaga. Is there anybody in charge with an iota of commonsense? No, just brown envelopes.
Niggled of Torrox

peterscott said:
18 August 2013 @ 09:39

Yes the uk is very far from ideal with corruption etc the differance is Spain is at least 20tmes worst because they do not have a free press as good as ours.
every little hamlet has got a mayer as well as the larger town & most have been on the fiddle with land/buildings & loads of other items
after the recession set in they were still building thousands of houses even though no one was buying that is street after street & hundeds Of blocks of flats --- I was living there& saw it happening
I mistakenly bought an illegal house , The Spanish cannot even sort this problem out --there are 40,000 illegal builds in Spain
the council saw them being built but did NOTHING.
these all came abour through corruption.

DS said:
18 August 2013 @ 10:28

Send this article to the German press

mac75 said:
18 August 2013 @ 10:33

Don't tell the Germans !!! :-)

Peter Robinson said:
18 August 2013 @ 10:34

We live in Spain in a newly built house. Low cost 'white elephants' are everywhere. One day we will have to pay infrastructure costs, unbeknown to us when we purchased. Most people in our community will not pay until the infrastructure has been completed, and even then will require the accounts to be independently audited before money changes hands!

John BINGLEY said:
19 August 2013 @ 10:40

As with all ICEBERGS there is more beneath the surface than the tip. Spain should be ashamed of such wasted amounts of money. One begs to think "Where has it all gone"

mac said:
19 August 2013 @ 10:50

The natural history museum is just one building, the Forum in Barcelona cost over 2 billion. No one can explain why it cost so much and what benefit it brought to the city.

floydy said:
24 August 2013 @ 09:28

I have owned a property inland from Benidorm since 2007. Height of the property boom then came the "crash" It has been long term let and we are now using it ourselves Had not been out for 2 years and just returned Didn't know what to expect but can honestly say on the face of it nothing has changed It is as busy and bustling as ever with locals, tourists and expats spending money as before And as for the the fiestas they continue and there is certainly no reduction in fireworks usage Talking to a local expat who has lived there for years he concurred things have continued as before and they refuse to work north European hours and persist with the siesta Incredible

Rusty said:
26 June 2014 @ 20:07

If you are going to take 10% its best to take 10% of something big.

As for the EU - the reason there is no control is they too are on their share of the 10%.

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