Balearic ban on coastal building
8 November 2007, Madrid - In a move that the government hopes will be imitated across Spain, the Balearic Islands are planning to put a freeze on several major housing projects slated to be built in vulnerable coastal areas.
8 November 2007
Madrid - In a move that the government hopes will be imitated across Spain, the Balearic Islands are planning to put a freeze on several major housing projects slated to be built in vulnerable coastal areas.
The moratorium affects three major developments with sea views, including one overlooking a pristine cove in Majorca and two wetlands in Ibiza and Palma de Majorca. Another area near the new Son Espases hospital in Palma is also affected by the freeze.
Although the moratorium is only temporary, the Balearic government hopes that the regional parliament will approve a definitive ban on building at these sites.
The decision comes as this and other coastal regions come under fire for years of untrammeled construction in areas of great natural beauty. The central government has asked regional authorities to cooperate in its stated goal of stopping any further deterioration of Spanish coasts, and has drawn up a study - Strategy for Coastal Sustainability - that details all the real-estate excesses that have turned Spain's coastline into a sea of concrete over the last few decades.
Pressure from local environmental groups has also played a role in the decision to stop the multimillion-euro construction projects in the Balearics. According to Greenpeace, 90 percent of the Spanish coastline suffers from erosion as a result of bad planning, excessive building and increased pressure from tourism.
Tourism represents 12 percent of Spain's GDP, and many of the 50 million visitors who come here each year end up on the coast, where the population density is up to 12 times higher than the national average during the height of the tourist season, according to Greenpeace Spain.
"We cannot mistreat our natural resources or allow a disproportionate residential growth that is incompatible with quality tourism," said the Balearic premier, Francesc Antich.
The Balearic government, a center-left coalition led by the Socialists, is expected to approve the moratorium this Friday. Unlike other measures that require approval by the regional parliament, this one is being handled as a decree-law - a legal measure used only in exceptional cases that immediately goes into effect.
The urgency and secrecy of the move - the exact location of the developments has not yet been revealed - serves to avoid landowners from preempting the action and "allowing the owners to obtain building permits," said one of the authors of the decree.
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ ANDREU MANRESA/ SUSANA URRA 2007]
Subject: Spanish news