HALF of Spain´s last few protected coastal areas – some 8,000 kms of shoreline – are under threat of development, according to a new report by Greenpeace.
In its annual report ´Destruction at all Coasts´ (Destrucción a Toda Costa 2009), some 120 of the country´s 233 protected coastal areas are under threat from pollution or illegal construction.
Despite the economic downturn and “massive overbuilding already”, there are still 562,000 houses under construction, as well as plans for 29 golf courses, 51 harbours and 14 commercial centres.
“Our coastlines have become a cemetery of cement and the last few remaining protected parts are in extreme danger of disappearing,” said director Juan Lopez de Uralde.
In particular the environmental group singled out Andalucia and Valencia as the worst culprits when it came to protecting the seashore.
In total, Greenpeace claims some 18 nature reserves are endangered in Andalucia, including the Donana National Park and the Cabo de Gata-Nijar natural park.
In the Canary islands there are 14 areas in particular danger, while in Valencia there are a similar number.
The report also noted that Spain has more legal proceedings open for abuse of the environment than any other country in the European Union,
The group adds that the coast is already “saturated” with houses, with one million units still empty.
And it reckons that the recession, if anything, has made the situation worse. Said Lopez de Uralde: “The downturn has not stopped anything, in fact it has got worse as the authorities have the philosophy that the coast can support everything.”
“There are still 562,000 houses under construction, as well as plans for 29 golf courses, 51 harbours and 14 commercial centres”.
He added that the recent attacks on chiringuitos were merely a “smokescreen” for a much bigger problem.
The group demanded that the government tightened up the Ley de Costas coastal law, that it is currently suspending.
It also wants the government to continue buying up protected coastal land and continue with the demolition of illegal buildings.
The Olive Press pointed out the hypocrisy of the coastal law earlier this year when it shone the spotlight on one house being built 20 yards from the seashore in Mijas, while ancient fishermen’s cottages were being knocked down in Galicia.