1- PROTECTION OF THE COAST IS NOT THE SAME CONCEPT AS PROTECTION OF NATURE
In fact, the current demarcation of Formentera comes from a proposal presented to the Environmental Ministry by the political group GOB (Balearic Ornithological Group) that wanted to protect the land to new constructions. The objective of this proposal was to protect the island’s natural environment, not the conservation of specific beaches or buildings in those areas.
In our opinion, this coast demarcation goes beyond the responsibilities of the Coast Department. One thing is the protection of nature (which should be governed by laws like the Law of Natural Parks Protection-L.E.N-) and another is the Coast protection (which should include only those properties complying with the criteria in the Coast Law of 89). What harm does a small house built on fixed dunes for more than 50 years actually cause?
We ask why the Spanish Coast Department makes no distinction between fixed dunes, mobile dunes, rockery or between forest and beach areas, in terms of differentiating between nature protection and coastal protection .
2- IT IGNORES THE PHYSICAL, HISTORICAL AND ECONOMICAL REALITY OF THE ISLAND
It ignores the Physical Reality of the Island:
The Introduction to the Coast Law of 1988 informs us that the area of the Spanish coastline has a width of about 5km, which represents around 7% of the national territory, and that this Law and its principles were based on this figures.
Therefore, the impact of the parameters used by this law is tremendous when applied to our little island of about 82km˛. As a result, the coast demarcation applied to our island suggests that more than 30% of its private surface becomes public land. This has an effect 4 times higher than the one we should expect for the mainland).
Moreover, this demarcation has not taken into account the fact that Formentera is characterised by the dispersion of the property there and hence, many people have their houses and business close to the sea (as you would expect on such a small island!!).
It ignores our History:
This demarcation fails to consider houses that were built more than 50 years ago. These are small properties that follow the architectonic style of Formentera.
It also includes famous buildings like the Hotel Roca Bella (which was the first hotel constructed in Formentera, in 1957). It is also one of the best well-known hotels in the island. It appears in postcards, books and all type of advertising material of the island. This is just one example, but we could also refer to other very important businesses affected by this coast demarcation like the Bluebar (which is one of the island’s biggest traditional tourism spenders), the Restaurante Tanga or es Molí de Sal (“classics” of the Illetas beach).
It ignores our Economy:
It is a fact, a reality, Formentera’s economy is based on tourism. The island’s economy depends basically on the income generated during the summer season. We do not have any other comparable industry and commerce, agriculture and fishing would not be enough in themselves to support the local economy. So, why attack the private property of hotels, bars, restaurants and apartments especially when they provide a vital service to the island’s visitors and inhabitants??
The accommodation capacity of the island is limited and restricted in as far as it can grow. In spite of respecting the property of existing businesses in the island, the Administration has denied all upgrade requests put forward by owners. In this way, we are going to see a gradual degradation of all affected properties in the following years. This is going to decrease the quality and image of the island.
All affected houses, restaurants, apartments and hotels included in the demarcation will be destroyed in 50 years (accordingly to the Coast Law). This will deeply damage the economy of the island (and wreck the tourist trade)…
3- BECAUSE IT IS BIASED*
When we talk about injustices, a good example is the coastal demarcation in the zigzagged areas around Migjorn, Es Carnatge and S’Estany Pudent. We can also criticise the demarcation of the area of Sa Roqueta (where the urban classifications of the area have been ignored) or the lack of respect they have shown in including some buildings with historical value as it is the case of Hotel Roca Bella o Es Molí de Sal. We should just ask ourselves where is the sense in including the coastline houses and apartments that are 200 or 300 metres from the coast in the public sphere.
But that’s not all, we also have to remember that the basic argument that inspired the Spanish Coast Law is that large buildings were threatening our coastlines in the eighties. Paradoxically all buildings included in this demarcation are small structures, whereas larger developments (like the Hotel Club la Mola, Hotel Maryland and Hotel Formentera Playa) have not been included in the public coastline defined area.
*(See concrete examples of injustices of this demarcation).
4- BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN CRITICISED BY ALL PARTIES SINCE ITS CONCEPTION
It is a fact that all parties, from our Main Town Hall to local bodies, key members of the Coast Department (such as D. Antonio Garau Mulet) and politicians of different colours have criticised this coastline demarcation because it is prejudiced and it ignores the unique features of Formentera.
Politicians have repeatedly told us on different occasions that this demarcation was going to be revised, most notably Mr. Jaume Matas (current President of the Balearic Government) and Mr. Arenas (when he was involved in the political campaign in Formentera). However, when they had the opportunity to intervene, they did nothing… We have to remember that Mr Matas stood against the demarcation of the coastline in Formentera when he was Minister for the Environment and he didn’t do anything!
5-BECAUSE IT DOES NOT DISTINGUISH BETWEEN FIXED DUNE AND MOBILE DUNE
The main change introduced in the Coast Law of 1988 is to include fixed dunes in the categorisation of coastal public land. But this inclusion is only “in the measure needed to conserve the beach”. It would have been ridiculous to try to include the entire fixed dune because the nearby vegetation (ie. pines) already maintain the dune in a good shape.
But in the demarcation of Formentera, this principle has not been respected to include all the fixed dunes and even rocky areas. If we were to apply this same policy to the demarcation of other areas like Andalusia, then we should class square kilometres of its dunes as public land. If we demarcate the coast based on the identitification of fixed dunes, then we will include in the public domain properties that have nothing to do with the protection of the coast (hence, we then confuse the concept of nature protection with coastal protection).
6- BECAUSE IT HAS IGNORED THE TOWN PLANNING OF THE MAIN FORMENTERA TOWN HALL
In an act of arrogance, the Coast Demarcation has ignored the town planning laid down by Formentera’s Main Town Hall. It has included the area of the coastline properties classed as urban areas (eg the Hostal Sa Roqueta) within the category of public land. We recall that the area of Sa Roqueta was approved as an urban area in the last subsidiary statutes of Formentera in 1989, which had the approval of the Coast Department.
SAND EXTRACTION QUARRY
We were let down again in 2005 by our politicians. We have only one principal source of income, which is tourism … this first source of earnings enables the second main business area, construction. For construction, we only had sand as a raw material. The problem is that, following after the last elections, the Secretary for the Environment visited the island and issued instructions to effectively paralyse all quarry activity on the island.
It is outrageous that politicians can close the quarries of the island when sand is an essential raw material for construction. These quarries had all the required licenses for operational activity and to carry out the mining work used to extract sand.
With the closing of the quarries we have been hurt twice over, as before we paid 8,40€/Tn sand and we now pay 65,00€/M3 sand. As a consequence, the cost of construction has increased even further. It would have been fairer to reforest the quarries and to impose fines on the owners that had not reforested them rather than closing all of them.
Another sensitive issue is that the quarries are included into the 100 metres of servitude, this means, the administration appropriates those properties included in the demarcation and obstructs the quarries despite them holding the required licenses.
It is pretty clear the lengths to which the Coast Department will go. Their objective is to appropriate all private property along the coast. This ruthless objective and the entire lack of respect for the people living in the area has reached a point that exemplifies its abject ignorance of the island’s history and heritage. Another example of this last point is when the Coast Department tried to knock down the small fishermens’ boathouses. We find it hard to comprehend the intent behind destroying a century of history like that? Fortunately, the strength and anger of the people managed to stop such barbarity but this time we need your help to stop this nonsensical plan.