A green ‘buffer zone’ of 390 hectares has been suggested in a bid to reduce pollution in the Mar Menor lagoon in Murcia.

The proposed area would be free of farming and building development.

The idea came yesterday(August 30) from Spain’s Ecological Transition Minister, Teresa Ribera.

Speaking to Congress, Teresa Ribera, said: “Urban and agricultural growth is not possible in the Mar Menor. On the contrary, we must reduce the current situation.”

Ribera’s ‘green-belt’ suggestion would occupy an area that’s equivalent to 557 football pitches.

The aim is create a ‘buffer’ against any polluting chemicals running into the lagoon.

Over a fortnight ago, thousands of dead fish and marine life started appearing on Mar Menor shores, following similar incidents in October 2019.

Investigations are continuing into the cause of the latest disaster.

Campaigners believe it is down to illegal farm irrigation systems discharging water with high nitrogen levels into the lagoon.

Ribera said that her department was ‘drafting a plan’ which would also see the restoration of 13 kilometres of riverbed.

She did not go into details as to whether there would be compulsory land purchases orders but did promise to ‘try to seek solutions such as payment for the management of environment services’.

That in effect means that Ribera is looking into paying compensation to farmers in order the change the way their land is used.

She also promised to hold meetings ‘at least once a month’ with residents and environmental groups fighting to protect the Mar Menor, in addition to ‘periodic’ meetings with Murcia’s president, Fernando Lopez Miras.

Ribera said that 8,500 hectares of illegal irrigation had been detected.

She added that Campo de Cartagena irrigators had also agreed with the regional water body, the CHS, to stop people with no registered ‘water rights’ in order to reduce nutrient pollution in the Mar Menor.

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