La Fontanilla beach, Marbella. Josele-Lanza
Marbella council has spent years fighting for a definitive solution for the beaches. The construction of a dyke parallel to the coast, or a breakwater, have been some of the proposals the local authority has been insistently putting forward as possible solutions to the loss of sand caused by the storms which systematically lash the coast. Now, the council finally has in its possession a draft project which has been drawn up by the Coastal Authority for the stabilisation of the coastline between El Faro and El Ancón, which includes not only the construction of a new breakwater but also a dyke parallel to the shore, as well as the importing of considerable amounts of sand.
The draft project which has been sent for the council to study and analyse includes various alternatives, although the Town Hall considers some to be better than others. The one which appears to be the most viable goes by the name 1.B and it includes two features which the council has been wanting for a long time: not only would there be a breakwater at El Ancón beach and the demolition of the one which currently exists at the Hotel Puente Romano, but there would also be a dyke parallel to the coast, situated off La Fontanilla and part of Casablanca beaches. The project also includes the regeneration of more than two kilometres of coast by bringing in sand from El Faro to Río Verde, which would be protected by the aforementioned defence measures.
The proposed measures, which would have an estimated cost of 11,497,588 euros, would also mean that the seafront promenade would be moved back but this would also affect the underground drainage pipes, something which at the moment the Town Hall strongly opposes.
This proposal would mean the compulsory purchase of more than 13,750 square metres of privately owned land so the promenade could be relocated, and this would cost over 1.5 million euros.
The demolitions, which would cost more than one million euros, and the construction of the new promenade, which would be over 2.4 million, "would mean it would take an eternity to complete the project", says Antonio Espada, the councillor for Beaches. "The content of the Urban Plan included a new integral drainage system running, mostly, along the N-340, so when the works are carried out below there will be very little flow and it would be easier to move it then", he explains, stressing that "the stabilisation of the beaches should be independent of this and should be done first". Moving the sewer further back would also incur a cost of something over 1.1 million euros, according to the draft project. However, a report provided to Marbella council by the Acosol water company indicates that the cost would be more than eight million euros.
Parallel to the coast
Because of the economic situation and because it is keen for there to be no delays to the beach project, the council considers that it would be more realistic to carry out the works in the water and postpone those which will have to take place on land. It has notified the Coastal Authority of this in writing, and the report will be sent on to the Ministry of the Environment for evaluation. Informal contacts between technicians from both departments seem to indicate that the council's reservations will be accepted.
The breakwater which is proposed for El Ancón beach will need 12,000 cubic metres of materials, according to the draft project, and it will be 200 metres in length from the shore out to sea. Its construction, which would cost 300,000 euros, would make the one which is situated at the Puente Romano obsolete, as it is barely 200 metres from where the new breakwater would be built.
The great innovation will be the dyke which will be constructed parallel to the coast and 300 metres offshore. Situated between La Fontanilla and Casablanca beaches, it will be 250 metres long, will need 30,000 cubic metres of materials and will cost some 2.4 million euros.
According to the Town Hall, the new breakwater will have to be six metres deep to ensure that it forms a total barrier. Once it has been erected, extra sand will be brought to the beaches between El Ancón and Río Verde. This will involve 65,000 cubic metres of sand being brought by lorry, although if possible the council would prefer the quantity to be increased to 150,000. It also hopes to increase the extra marine sand specified in the draft project by 300,000 cubic metres, bringing the total to 750,000 for the beaches of El Faro, La Fontanilla, Casablanca, Nagüeles, Puente Romano and El Ancón.
The modifications which are being proposed by the council would result in a total cost of 6,330,000 euros, which is lower than the estimate given in the Coastal Authority's proposals. "We believe this is a reasonable sum for the recovery of more than two kilometres of beaches from the centre of Marbella", stresses the councillor.
San Pedro, on tenterhooks
Once the draft proposal for the stabilisation of this stretch of coast is given the go-ahead, the mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, and her team have an arduous task ahead. Still pending is the stretch between La Bajadilla and the Leisure Port, implicit in the sheikh's port development, and of course the stabilisation of the beaches between Guadaiza and Guadalmina. With regard to this, Antonio Espada says that in April the Ministry of the Environment will be putting to tender the contract for the project to study possible alternatives.