Anyone Remember Ley de Costas?

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I READ recently that if things carry on the way that they are going then by the year 2030 the entire Spanish Coast will be damaged or at the very least adversely affected by human activities.

It really did make depressing reading stating that “more than 50% of the beaches and 70% of the dunes belonging to the Spanish coast have been damaged or seriously altered; 60% of the wetlands that were present in 1950 have disappeared; more than 60% of the land immediately surrounding the beaches on the Mediterranean, southern Atlantic, and island coastlines, has been urbanised.”

So much for the Ley de Costas then!

The Ley de Costas, known as the Spanish Coastal Law, was introduced in 1988 with the aim of making the whole length of the coastline accessible to the public and to defend the coast against erosion and excessive urbanisation. Basically it defined a public domain area along the coast, and a further zone where special restrictions apply to private ownership.

The statistics are pretty clear, the law hasn’t worked, and you only have to drive along the coastline of Spain to see how the skylines reflect the figures. To be fair though, it may be a little simplistic to say that the law hasn’t worked, as after all this is Spain, so perhaps more accurate to say that the interpretation and implementation of the law hasn’t worked. After all this is Spain, where everything is an “exception” and the phrase “yes but” is deemed justification enough, and a shrug of the shoulders more often than not is the only defense offered up! Yet again the large companies have just pushed it aside with a combination of brute force and cash, one suspects, as many a local council will have looked the other way, for a few beers no doubt!

Unbelievably there has even been talk recently in the Congress about whether to dilute the ‘harsh’ Ley de Costas, which has drawn pretty strong party responses: PSOE refuse to change it at all, PP are sat on the fence saying it is a little draconian, and the Catalan Nationalist CIU party in particular want it drastically altered.

For once though the answer may well be to tear it up and start again, as pretty everyone seems to have agreed that the existing Ley de Costas hasn’t worked.

Something needs to be done though. With just under 10,000 kilometers of coastline Spain has a tremendous amount of natural beauty to attract a variety of tourists.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing at all against places like Benidorm and Malaga, I enjoy visiting them as much as the next person, but I choose not to live in them, preferring the (still) unspoilt beauty of Costa Almería, and I fear that without some action soon future generations simply wont have that choice.

Reflections From A Balcony In Spain: by Chris Marshall

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