18 Jun, 2008 @ 18:06
3 mins read

Beaches beaten black and blue


Plastic Greenhouses As EU withdraws 13 Blue Flags from Andalucian beaches, a Black Flag list puts the whole Axarquia in the dead zone and lists Cadiz at particular risk of destruction

THE Andalucian tourist industry is reeling after its beaches got slated in two new reports.

Just days after the European Union withdrew 13 Blue Flags along the Andalucía coast, an environmental group has criticised the conditions at 46 beaches in the region.

Black flagAmong those singled out is the beach where the controversial Algarrobico hotel has been built in Almería and the whole El Ejido area for its plasticulture industry (pictured above) that has seen agricultural and chemical waste polluting the Mediterranean Sea.

The entire stretch of the Axarquia coast in Málaga has been awarded a Black Flag for the presence of waste material in the waters and on the beach.

In total, green group Ecologistas en Accion has given 46 beaches in Andalucía a Black Flag, while an additional 72 Black spots have been flagged up as danger zones.

The worst hit province is Cádiz, with 15 of its beaches singled out and with a big warning that the Costa de la Luz is facing massive development over the next few years.

For the first time in its ten year history the group has awarded a double black flag to Tarifa for plans to massively urbanise its coastline.

Sand kicked in our faces


RAW sewage floating just metres from bathers, chemical refuse from plastic greenhouses dumped in the sea and housing developments destroying the coast – this is the chilling state of Andalucía’s beaches as the region gears up for its busy summer season.

But it is not just environmentalists who are lining up to criticize. It is also Brussels as the European Union recently awarded its annual Blue Flags for beaches that meet its strict criteria, including the quality of the water, hygienic conditions and services for tourists.

There were a total of 49 blue flags withdrawn around Spain, with 22 of them in Galicia and 13 in Andalucia.

To compliment and contradict the EU, Spain’s environmental pressure group Ecologistas en Accion gives out its own version of the quality marker – the Black Flag.

This is awarded to areas polluted, dirty or failing to meet basic hygiene standards.

Last year, the group gave 48 to the region’s beaches; this year the count is slightly fewer with 46.

But a reduction in the number of Black Flags does not mean the situation is getting better. In some parts of the region, it is considerably worse.

Granada, for example, now has only one EU-approved beach after two were stripped of the Blue Flag title.

Here is the situation in Malaga, Cadiz and Almeria.


Cadiz lost six blue flags this year, including ones for Zahara and El Palmar. In total though it still has 15 flags, with La Alcaidesa and La Barrosa in Chiclana among those awarded. Los Bateles in Conil also got a flag.

Cadiz however is at particular danger of development and is already suffering from severe pollution and overdevelopment. In total it has 15 Black Flags, with an alarming 24 additional black spots, the highest in the region. The group was particularly concerned about Tarifa, which uniquely was awarded two black flags and three black spots. These came for plans to expand the enormous Cabo de Plata urbanisation, with a golf course, 1035, and a series of hotels, despite having no guarantee of water. The group is also highly concerned about plans for the huge Cortijo del Moro urbanisation planned for Atlanterra (see over) which would see two golf courses, 1100 houses and four luxury hotels built. A protest was held at both spots at the weekend. “Tarifa is developing urban plans that will make an irreversible impact on this lovely coastline,” said a spokesman.
El Palmar in Vejer has been given a black flag for its numbers of illegal housing and for huge plans to develop the area, as reported in the Olive Press last month (see theolivepress.es).


The province heads the list in Andalucía for the amount of Blue Flags awarded with 17. East of the city, beaches at Burriana and Torrecilla in Nerja were praised by the EU. Los Boliches, Torreblanca and La Cala de Mijas were also singled out.
Málaga is unique in the region in that it witnessed an increase this year in the number of flags given. In 2007, it had 15.

The entire stretch of the Costa del Sol, from Estepona to Nerja, was awarded 12 Black Flags with a further 24 black spots. The majority of these were found to the west of Málaga city with the Malaga coastline “practically urbanised in its entirety”.
The Axarquia was given a single flag by the environmental group, but this was to cover the entire stretch from Rincon de la Victoria to Nerja. This was after bathers complained of “the constant presence of waste material, including excrement, floating in the sea.”
There are, however, six black spots: principally at the mouth of the Chillar river in Nerja, where raw sewage is allowed to flow into the sea; and at Torrox Costa, where the only sand dune in the east of the Málaga province was destroyed by heavy machinery during construction of a promenade.
The remaining danger areas are at Torre del Mar and Rincon de la Victoria.

Further information on other parts of the province can be found www.ecologistasenaccion.org


  1. Beaches beaten black and blue. June 18 2008

    Is it any wonder?

    Sitting beside the Charca Suarez on the Avenida de Julio Moreno, Puerto de Motril, in my wheelchair waiting for my wife and car, I saw a corporation ‘Honey Wagon’ empty it’s contents of raw sewage into stream. The stench was appalling! This foul detritus ran across the Playa Poniente where children were playing and out to sea. The simple-minded Spanish workmen can’t really be blamed. The council should impose stricter rules and enforce them.

  2. It is incredible and highly disturbing that Burriana beach in Nerja has been awarded a blue flag recently. I’ve been there a few times during the last two weeks witnessing so much and very visible sewage in the sea. It was utterly disgusting and my kids cannot be persuaded to go there ever again. They are traumatised by the disgusting fact that you can set up several invitations to swim and play (life guard, bouy that marks where you should swim etc) and at the same time let out human waste, sanitary towels and FAECES. I’m pretty shocked myself. Bvadrr!!! How on earth can it happen that an irressponsible behavior like this is awarded with a quality indication as the blue flag is???? I don’t get it.

  3. Mathias, the blue flag is a smokescreen and always has been. I have seen sewage floating on at least three blue flag beaches in the past month. In Spain there is just no concept of proper regulation and enforcement. They constantly award themselves meaningless things, like “blue flags”, mostly as a propoganda device to try claw in tourists. You can see how Spain treats tourists: like morons. As if they cannot see the scum floating on the surface! I hope the bathers take a class action EU lawsuit against Spain if they become ill.

  4. …and here we are. One year later. And nothing has changed. Somebody should be getting their acts together. Can’t imagine that this is anything but an easy win for any politician. Can someone explain to me why the obvious – treating citizens and tourists with dignity by funneling human waste somewhere else than crowdy beaches – apparently seems so difficult?

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