Black outlook for Spain’s coastline

24th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

An environmental group says the number of polluted or soon-to-be- polluted beaches in Spain is up by 15 percent from 2007.

24 July 2008

MADRID - Environmental group Ecologistas en Acción has made a damning report on the state of Spain's coast. In its 2008 study, the NGO identified a total of 627 "black flags" and "black points," a 15-percent rise from 2007.

According to the organisation, black flags are deemed areas which are already polluted, while black points are zones where pollution can turn into a serious problem.

The environmental group said that the most polluted areas of Spain are the Mediterranean coast, the Balearic Islands and the North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla, which had 53 percent of the black-marked areas identified by the group.

By region, the Mediterranean coast got a total of 129 black flags and 162 black points, followed by Cantabria, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, and the Gulf of Cádiz ("the most polluted coastal point in Europe," according to the report).

Theo Oberhuber, spokesman for Ecologistas en Acción, said that the continued destruction of Spain's coastal areas was due to "untenable [economic] development" which began in the previous decade. The construction, tourism, fishing and agriculture sectors were all to blame, he added.

These sectors, according to Oberhuber, are responsible for transforming the coastline into enormous crisis areas, which in turn will have a significant impact on the Spanish economy.

Another factor cited is the proliferation of new harbours and marines. Breakwaters, for example, contribute to erosion. The bleak picture for the coastal regions, Ecologistas believes, has also been exacerbated by dumped waste as sewage systems fail to cope with the surge of holiday goers in summer.

"We have jeopardised the coast for the years to come and we will suffer the consequences from such environmental degradation," concluded Oberhuber.

Meanwhile, the European Commission announced that it plans to demand over EUR 30 million in funds it earmarked in the 1994-06 period for the hotel sector in Lanzarote if it transpires they were used for illegal projects. The funds were approved by the Popular Party government for economically underdeveloped areas on the Canary Island.

A European Union spokesman for regional development said that if the money was used for illegal projects and hotels that were never built, it will ask Spain to return the funds.

At least 10 hotels in Lanzarote received a total of over EUR 30 million in funds between 1998 and 2002. One of the hotels under suspicion, the Millennium, reportedly received EUR 4.67 million in funds but was never built.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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