95 per cent of the 500 metre wide strip from the sea in Fuengirola is developed, says Greenpeace. :: SUR
Greenpeace presented Fuengirola, along with several other Spanish coastal towns, last weekend with one of its ‘Burbuja inmobiliaria de oro’ awards, which are used by the environmental organisation “to name and shame” municipalities where it believes over-development and/or planning abuses have taken place.
The so-called “award of dishonour” came in the form of a giant golden balloon that was installed by volunteers in Theresa Zabell Square in the town centre.
This measure was timed to coincide with a new Greenpeace report, ‘Destruction At All Costs’, which finds that between 1987 and 2005, two hectares of previously undeveloped shoreline, or the strip of land 500 metres from the sea, was built upon every day.
“Fuengirola was selected to receive the ‘Burbuja inmobiliaria de oro’ here in Andalucía because 95 per cent of land that is located 500 metres from the sea or less in Fuengirola is completely developed,” says Pilar Marcos, the director of Greenpeace España’s coastal campaigns.
After Fuengirola, the municipalities which come next in the “urban abuse” stakes in Malaga province – the province which tops the ranking for being the most developed in Andalucía – are Marbella and Torremolinos, according to the ecological activists.
Whilst these three coastal resorts “could and should do better”, it has also been recognised by a Greenpeace spokesman that they are by no means “the worst offenders in our country.” These would, he says, include Calp (Alicante), Calvià (Mallorca), and Chiclana de la Frontera (Cadiz). The best examples of where the coastal areas are used in an ecologically-sound and sustainable manner are, according to the representative, Fuencaliente de La Palma (La Palma), Vallehermoso (La Gomera) and Villaviciosa (Asturias).
Greenpeace’s report and the issuance of these ‘awards’ comes a little after a week since it was revealed that the Junta de Andalucía is planning to ease development restrictions on ‘virgin land’ along some of southern Spain’s coastline.
As SUR in English reported last week, “The decree, drawn up by the PSOE-IU coalition at the helm of the Junta, will affect some construction plans on the Costa del Sol, but not as many as the town halls (most of them governed by the PP) had feared.
“The ‘Plan de Protección del Corredor Litoral de Andalucía’ is to be on public display until October 31st to allow affected parties to present their objections.”
Of Fuengirola’s ‘Burbuja inmobiliaria de oro’, Helen McCaffrey, a resident of some 20 years and long-time Greenpeace supporter, says: “Over-development has wrecked so much of Andalucía’s beautiful coastline and this is a way of making the public aware that more needs to be done to protect what is left of it; or, where possible, that the terrible and ugly effects of the construction boom could be reversed.”
But local business owner, Gandy Shah, comments: “I think it’s disgraceful that Fuengirola’s good name is being tarnished in this way, at a time when all coastal municipalities need to attract good publicity to bring in visitors, as we all rely on tourism.”