1)The Telegraph, July 7 2006: Spain is Developing into a Nightmare    

2) Times Online, July 6 2006 : Construction boom is threat to fragile costas


'Spain is Developing into a Nightmare'

By Fiona Govan in  Valencia

Poor planning, local corruption and the flaunting of EU environmental guidelines are turning Spain's coastline into a "deep ulcer"of urban development that is polluting beaches and poisoning the sea, according to a report yesterday.

The swath of holiday homes, hotels and golf courses spreading across popular coasts are rapidly destroying ecosystems the country relies on for tourism and fishing, said the environmental group Greenpeace in a 73-page study.

The swath of holiday homes, hotels and golf courses spreading across popular coasts are rapidly destroying ecosystems the country relies on for tourism and fishing, said the environmental group Greenpeace in a 73-page study.

"The Spanish coastline is defenceless," implored Maria Jose Caballero, the coast campaigner for Greenpeace in Spain, at the publication of the report. "Although citizens are increasingly aware of the degradation it is facing, no administration is taking the challenge seriously."

Greenpeace said rapid growth could do long-term damage to the tourism industry, which accounts for more than 10 per cent of the Spanish economy.

Up to 12.5 million Britons visit every year and the report said part of the problem is the huge number of second homes being built to meet the demand from foreign investors, with Britons leading the field.

An estimated 35 per cent of residences on the Mediterranean coastline are holiday homes, with 70 per cent in some areas, such as Roses and L'Escala on the Costa Brava.

Miss Caballero said yesterday that those considering buying property should think carefully.

"It is the responsibility of each person to make a considered decision. Buying a second home in certain areas will contribute to the destruction of the Spanish coastline. It's difficult to enjoy a holiday with that knowledge."

The report has identified 286 blackspots on Spain's 5,000-mile coastline, where development has been the least sustainable, has caused the greatest pollution, and where there is most evidence of corruption.

The Valencia region, with its popular tourist destinations along the Costa Blanca, tops the list with 57, followed by Galicia with 46, and Andalusia, home to the Costa del Sol, with 40.

The Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands were also criticised.

Some coastal municipalities have almost three-quarters of their shore fully urbanised half a mile inland, with the Costa del Sol suffering the most over-development.

Greenpeace estimates that some 20 per cent of Spain's coastline is now urban and a further 40 per cent has lost its natural state.

As a result, the sea is suffering contamination from sewage and industrial run-off, forcing the closure of 15 per cent of swimming beaches over the past 13 years. The report detailed 99 cases of pollution of coastal waters and warned of the damage suffered by some marine life while causing others, such as jellyfish, to proliferate.

"Thirteen per cent of urban and industrial waste waters reach the sea without any form of treatment," the report stated, noting that several places such as Ferrol in Galicia, Algeciras in Andalusia and Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol lack proper water treatment facilities.

The report also cites 102 cases of official corruption in coastal areas, notably in Marbella and Alicante, which have revealed embezzlement, kickbacks and influence peddling in the coastal property boom.

More than 60 arrests have been made in Marbella after it emerged earlier this year that property developers were given preferential treatment after paying out millions of pounds in bribes to officials.

Many of the new developments are illegal with up to 4,500 homes, many of them owned by Britons, facing demolition.

A spokesman for Spain's ministry of environment declined to comment on the findings of the report.


'Construction boom is threat to fragile costas'

Edward Owen in Madrid

Times Online July 6 2006 

SPAIN does not have the infrastructure or water resources to cope with a building spree of seaside resorts, environmentalists said yesterday. Last year alone, permission was granted to build 768,000 dwellings on the coast, 58 new golf courses and 27 leisure marinas. 

There were 88 serious incidents of water contamination. In addition to the threat to public health, the construction boom threatens habitats and wildlife, environmentalists say 

In the past year, 22 million square metres of land previously reserved for rustic use have been redesignated for building.

There are already 44,900 illegal buildings on the costas, Greenpeace said in a report.  

“They are developing the last stretches of unspoilt coast,” said Juan López de Uralde, the head of Greenpeace in Spain, which noted that unbridled development was being pursued despite the apparent lack of demand from the tourist industry. 

“Excessive urban development is an attack against the environment,” María José Caballero, responsible for the report, said. “In the end it goes against tourism because the coast becomes overcrowded. Quality tourism looks for natural spaces and places which are quiet.” 

The report showed that while Spain’s population rose by 5 per cent between 1990 and 2000, urban development, mainly on the coast, increased by 25.4 per cent. Yet the profitability of at least 30 per cent of hotels on the costas fell in the past year for lack of demand.  

Many developers now build golf courses to cater for what is still seen as a booming market.

“This does not benefit tourism (or) create a sustainable economic model since the consumption of land and water is far greater than the benefits to society,” Greenpeace said.

An unspoilt stretch of Mediterranean coast, the Natural Park of Cape Gata-Níjar in Almeria, is being devastated by a 20-storey hotel being built down to the sea. The regional government says it is legal.

The Valencia region is now so overcrowded that developers are moving inland. The so-called “Land Grab” law has allowed unscrupulous builders to team up with corrupt councillors to obtain land for building.  

Cristina Narbona, the Environment Minister, has said that more will be done to protect the coast. So far, Greenpeace notes, nothing has happened. 


* The Ministry of Environment gave warning that developing marinas on the Cantabrian coast will damage ecosystems

* Overdevelopment without adequate sewage treatment facilities has caused the European Commission to initiate sanctions against Spain

* There are now 293 golf courses — the majority in coastal regions. Within a decade there will be 500

* In the summer of 2004 Spain received five million fewer tourists than in the same period of 2002


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