Decree allows construction on land in danger of flooding - if the developer takes on the risk

The Guadalhorce industrial estate in last December's floods .
The Guadalhorce industrial estate in last December's floods . / :: ÑITO SALAS
  • A royal decree that came into force at the end of December allows construction in urban areas at risk of flooding if prevention plans are included in the scheme

The central government has brought in changes to its legislation that could mean a turnaround for development plans thwarted by the Junta de Andalucía's restrictions regarding land considered to be at risk of flooding.

A year ago the regional authority brought into force regulations that prohibited construction in certain high risk urban areas.

Now the decree issued by Madrid states that developers wanting to build on land officially classified as at risk of flooding must subscribe to a declaration of responsibility in which they "clearly state that they are aware of and take on the existing risk and the civil protection measures applicable to the case, committing to pass on this information to anyone who could be affected," says the decree.

In other words, the government is washing its hands of responsibility for consequences of construction in areas at risk and puts this on any private developers willing to take it on.

Requirements for construction in these areas, which include urbanised zones close to the Guadalhorce river, require the building plans to be drawn up taking into account the risk of flooding and including measures to ensure that "the risk to the safety of persons and goods is not increased".

Legal experts have recognised that this measure could considerably compromise the private party's right to demand compensation for damage, such as that caused by the floods in Malaga province on December 4th. It would also increase the cost of insurance for buildings such as warehouses on the industrial estates in the Guadalhorce area.

Bridge works

Meanwhile the problem of flooding around the Guadalhorce was taken by the mayor of Malaga to Madrid on Wednesday. At a meeting with the ministers for the Environment and Public Works, Francisco de la Torre called for funds to replace the Azucarera bridge, which currently hinders the flow of water when the river swells.

The central government believes that the work should be carried out by the Junta de Andalucía, which took on responsibility for hydraulic works in 2004, although the regional authority claims the funds should come from Madrid as it did plan a new bridge back in 2002.