August 2013 News Headlines

The Cost del Sol - Spain's Escalating Solar Crisis

Households generating solar panel energy may be penalised

August 30th
Spain's subsidies to solar energy rose from €190m in 2007 to €3.5 billion in 2012 (an 18-fold increase). Total subsidies to all renewables reached €8.1 billion in 2012. The cumulative tariff deficit (the cost of the system minus revenues from consumers) reached €26 billion, having risen by about €5 billion a year. ( The Economist - July 20th) Spain is generating so much solar power, according to its government, that production capacity exceeds demand by more than 60%. (Forbes August 19th) Earlier this year Spain proposed new deficit-reduction measures that would increase the price of self-generated solar power significantly, making it more expensive than electricity generated by the conventional electric grid. The new laws would penalize customers with solar panels who did not connect to the grid. (Forbes - August 16th)

UNED (National Distance Education University) opens registration in Denia

August 30th
Spain's National Distance Education University - UNED - is offering a wide range of low cost academic courses including 27 batchelors degrees and registration is open at the UNED Centre in Denia from September 4th until October 16th. Information about UNED can be found in English here and information about the Denia centre can be found here . Note the UNED senior programme includes courses on Ornithology and Birdwatching and how to create a work of art.

Benitatxell harvests its second crop of "Biomoscatell"

August 29th
This year, Benitatxell hopes to harvest some 10,000 kg of Biomoscatell - "organic" moscatel grapes grown without chemicals. There has apparently been a growing interest in this product in local shops and restaurants. The project is part of the Agriclimatechange initiative. From XAD: La Segunda...

Early "Gota fria" causes damage and flooding in Xàbia

August 29th
The storm and deluge last night dumped 74mm of rain on the Port in half an hour, flooded the tourist office (the girls who work there and the local police spent the evening baling out), downed a tree branch near the sports hall and tore the canopy off a stand for the Bulls in the Sea festivities. Apparently a jet ski and someone who fell in the sea had to be rescued. (From XAD: Una Tromba... ) The storm was due to a DANA (Depresión Aislada en Niveles Alto - Isolated high altitude depression) - commonly referred to as "Gota Fría". Meanwhile elsewhere in the region, hail has damaged olive crops and the excessive water is expected to decrease the rice yiled in the Pego marshes. From Las Provincias: Caen las...

A third of Valencian mountains could generate income

August 28th
The Valencian Government is developing a plan to promote the exploitation of some 364,500 ha of mountainous land to generate wealth - i.e. the selling of wood as biomass for thermal and electricity generation, hunting, tourism, grazing , wild fruits etc. This is the basis of the Territorial Forestry Action Plan (Patfor). About 70% of this land is scattered smallholdings and its lack of economic return has led to its abandonment. The only way economic explotation will work is if owners can work together as groups in order to cut costs. Currently, 54 percent of the area of ​​the Region, 1.2 million hectares, is formed by woodland. However, this large green area contributes only 1% GDP and is additionaly subject to wildfires. From Las Provincias: La Generalitat....

Bike route signposts get a grant

August 28th
Xàbia Town Hall has received a grant of €5,336 from the Valencia Tourist board to go towards the signposting of Xàbia's network of cycle routes. 10 routes have been publicised through pamphlets in Spanish and English, though they still need to be signposted. The total budgeted cost for signposting is €10,672 and work will be coordinated with the Montgó Natural Park authorities so that existing posts can be used for the new signs where possible. From XAD: Turismo recibe....

Javea launches initiative to provide training in the hospitality sector

August 27th
The Departments of Economic Development and Finance, in collaboration with the private sector, have launched a new initiative to promote employment in the town's main economic sector - tourism. The plan aims to train up to 100 residents in the business and thus open up more option to adapt to a growing labour market as well as improve the quality of tourist services offered in town. For full story see: Javeamigos

Tourism consultant contracted

Augsut 24th
Following recommendations from the towns Committee for Tourism, Xàbia has contracted a consultant for a year, Mario Schumacher, to prepare a media plan to position and promote the town, advise of the types of publications to be used for greatest success and impact on social networks. From XAD: El Gestor de las ...

Suspected Arsonist at work

August 24th
Two recent fires in the Tossal Gros and Tarraula areas are fueling suspicions of an arsonist at work. The fires always start late at night in remote areas and Wednesday's fire in Tarraula had two foci some 50m apart. Luckily there was not much wind and the damage was minimised. The area of Tarraula and Tossal Gros has seen a number of similar fires over the past few years indicating they may have had the same initiator. A municipal team is making a forestry track to improve access for firefighters to access Tossal Gros. From Diarioinformación...

Xàbia signs three year agreement with Red Cross

August 24th
Xàbia Town Hall has signed an agreement with the local Red Cross valued at €675,000 over three years for the provision of 24/7 emergency transport. Payments will be staggered because of the Town's current exceptional drop in IBI income : 100,000 will be paid from the 2013 budget, 275,000 in 2014 and the remaining 300,000 in 2015. The agreement does not include beach life-giards and surveillance. From XAD: Xàbia oficializa...

Hope for Spain’s ailing biofuel sector

August 21st
After four years in decline, scientific breakthroughs could help the industry, which employs thousands of people. For many years researchers have been studying the lignin biosynthetic pathway in plants. Lignin gives strength to plants, but severely reduces the accessibility of sugar molecules for biofuel production. International research collaboration has identified a new enzyme in the lignin biosynthetic pathway. This enzyme, caffeoyl shikimate esterase (CSE), has a central role in lignin biosynthesis. Knocking-out the CSE gene resulted in 36 percent less lignin per gram of stem material. Additionally, the remaining lignin had an altered structure. As a result, the direct conversion of cellulose to glucose from un-pretreated plant biomass increased four-fold, from 18 percent in the control plants to 78 percent in the CSE mutant plants. for full story see: El Pais in English

Read your own water meter

August 20th
Xàbia's Municipal water company, Amjasa has set up an on-line virtual office through which subscribers can record their own meter readings, check water consumption and invoices, and report faults. All you need to sign up is an old water bill: Type in your NIE, your account code (Codigo Cuenta Cliente) mobile phone number and e-mail address. You can also ask to receive bills electronically. Sign up on:

Damage from Spain’s crooked dark side

August 18th
According to international corruption rankings, such as that published by Transparency International, between 10 and 20 percent of (EU) public contracts are lost through corruption, and five percent of Europe's annual spending is not accounted for. A European Commission draft document produced this month provides a more detailed picture. Brussels calculates that corruption costs the EU 120 billion euros a year, 1.1 percent of GDP across the 28-member bloc. Spain is the 30th least corrupt country out of 176: between Botswana and Estonia; and far from Italy, which is 72nd, a country with a major problem, but equally distant from Denmark, supposedly the world's least corrupt country. for full story see: El País in English

Benidorm - Still a classic

August 18th
Benidorm, for all its noted decadence, is much more than just a ghost of its old jet-set image from the 1970s. It is quite well-suited for a weekend escape… especially for lovers of seafood, pub crawls and sand. It does of course have its unsightly drawbacks such as the multitude of open-air shops — selling tacky souvenirs, beach toys and sand chairs — not to mention the world’s ugliest skyscraper, InTiempo, located at the edge of “Beniyork,” the name given to much of the newer part of town where out-of-place high rises reach out. But despite the bad landscaping that surrounds it and a constant influx of outsiders, Benidorm is still a favorite destination for many Spaniards throughout the year. For full story see: El Pais in English

Regional Plan for flood prevention stalled

but Xàbia takes matters into its own hands

August 14th
It has been ten years since Valencia launched PATRICOVA - the regional infrastructure plan for flood defences, and it has not yet been completed. According to Las Provincias nothing much has changed over the past couple of years with 30% of the proposed constructions being finished, 40% still being works, and the remaining 30% still only projects. The River Authority's (CHJ) budget was cut from 32 million to 12 million in 2012 and this year it will be around 10 million which will be devoted to clearing river bed weeds. Technicians from the river authority say that people often get over excited about weeds in the river-bed, which in many cases have beneficial effects, however, they acknowledge that the appearance of flora which alter the natural equilibrium can be a problem. (Las Provincias: Lucha contra...) In the meantime, workers from the Xàbia environmental brigade (which was set up to give summer jobs to 30 of the unemployed), have cleared 500 Eucalyptus trees and seedlings from the bed of the Rio Gorgos. This highly invasive and fast growing species was on its way to establishing a forest in the river bed. There was a danger of trunks and branches being swept away during the rains, causing blockages under the bridge at the river mouth. From: Diarioinformación

Photography competition on Cultural diversity

August 14th
The Intercultural department of Xàbia, the local Red Cross in collaboration with the Agrupació Fotogràfica and Old town business association, are organising a photo competition called "Images for diversity", to promote the coexistence and multiculturalism of immigrants and locals in common areas (school, supermarket, neighbourhood). The competition is open to anyone aged 12 years and up (there are two groups: 12 to 17 years and age 18 and upwards), each person submitting up to 3 pictures at the Red Cross until September 23. Prizes are worth € 400 exchangeable in shops in Xàbia Old Town. Entries may be in black and white or colour, must be original and show any situation that reflects the respectful relationship between different cultures. The must be mounted 40cm by 50cm and signed on the back. From XAD: Xàbi propone...

AMJASA supplies more than 30,000m3 of water per summer day

August 13th
AMJASA supplied an average of 30,000 cubic metres of water per day during July, hitting a peak of 32,600 on Saturday 20th. Almost half of this water comes form ground water wells, the rest is supplied by the desalination plant which is operating on three of its four banks of osmotic filters. Some of the water has been sold to neighbouring towns such as the Teulada / Benitatxell consortium and Gata de Gorgos. Despite high demand, there has actually been a decline in the amount of water supplied as compared to the same time last year. This has been ascribed to improvements in the distribution system (i.e. less water lost through leaks). From Las Provincias:Amjasa injectar...

Sports hall cleaning out to tender

August 11th
A contract worth some €50,000 per year (extendable) for the cleaning of the Sports Hall in Xàbia Port has been put out to tender. Bids should be submitted within 15 days of August 6th. The Council had tried unsuccessfully to carry out the cleaning in-house. From: XAD: Xàbia busca....

Cannabis Copped on the Cumbre

August 11th
The Guardia Civil searched a suspicious property on the Cumbre del Sol to find 606 cannabis plants growing in a well equipped basement plant house and a box containing 3,100 gms of dried marijuana The three inhabitants of the house (one Dutch, one Spanish and a Romanian woman) were charged with theft of electricity and activities against public health. From Las Provincias: Desmantelan...

Direct Debit IBI surprise

August 9th
Jávea Property owners were surprised to discover that IBI had been debited from their bank accounts early in August, when many people had budgeted for payments at the end of September as previously. Not only that, the amount was considerably higher than last year. Mayor Chulvi explained reasons for the higher IBI bill on his Facebook page See IBI 2013 and indeed the Town Council had warned of higher IBI bills to come at the plenary council meeting in November 2012 with a hike in the factor to calculate IBI - from 0.93% to 1.13% . The Calendario Fiscal on the Town Hall website states that IBI is payable from 6th August until 20th October, but there's no mention of changes to the date for direct debit payments ! Also in November 2012 it was announced that "Xàbia Town Hall is introducing a system whereby, in 2013, people can customise their schedule of payments of local taxes to suit their circumstances. People who pay early will get a discount of up to 4%, and those who wait until the end of the year will pay a small surcharge" (See: November 2012 News Headlines.) People are advised to visit the Help Desk at the Citizens attention office to avail themselves of this system. (Eds notes from various sources !)

Bring back ugly fish and dirty lettuce: calls for a sustainable, healthy diet

The Slow Food Movement (SFM), created in 1989 and now boasting around 100,000 members around the world, seeks "food diversity and quality, and respect for nature. But the accessibility of local products depends on one's geographical location and the Slow Food Movement and others cannot compete as a lobby with major corporations. Spain is the leading European producer of organic products, but this does not result in good sales at home: the Swiss spend 150 euros per person a year on organic food, compared with six euros here. These products tend to be 20 to 40 percent more expensive due to higher production costs. And not everyone thinks they are worth the added cost. "There are a lot of rip-offs, and I'm not sure [organic products] are a panacea," writes López Iturriaga. The price issue is key in countries mired in economic crisis, such as Spain. "A UN report shows that 40 percent of the world's food gets thrown away," says Di Croce, citing the example of pre-washed lettuces "which cost nearly 10 percent more and whose sales have increased." For full story see: El Pais in English

Why the crisis could be good for nature

Environmentalists wage legal campaign to reverse earmarking of land for building

August 9th
709,577 hectares of "urbanisable" land could be rescued and returned to nature. It is this great pocket of land that environmentalists want to win back by having it reclassified as green space once more, at least in cases where construction is not imminent. Seo BirdLife members have asked political parties to include a clause in the country's Land Law stipulating that any property classified as fit for building must revert back to its previous state if construction does not occur within 10 years. For full story see: El Pais in English

Despite the crisis Mercadona creates 14,000 jobs

August 7th
Mercadona supermarkets continue to grow despite the crisis and have added 14,000 permanent jobs since 2007 when the crisis began. The workforce is now 74,000 and if you add the food supply chain, this rises to 400,000 or 2% of the Spanish workforce, and supply chain workers earnan average of €32,000 per year, above the Spanish average of €23,000. The company continues to invest, opening an average of 73 new supermarkets each year over the past decade and plans to invest €600 million in 60 new stores in 2013. It contributes 3,700 million Euros to the Country's GDP (or 0.34% ). From Las Provincias: Mercadona crea....

It's Official - it's Hot

August 7th
According to the Spanish Met office (AEMET), the average July temperature in the region of 25 degrees, was 1.6 degrees above "normal", following a particularly cool June. However, the month was not as hot as in 1994 and 1982 (25.6º) , and 2003, 2006 and 2009 all had an average higher than 25º. The coolest summer in recent records was 1997, with an average of 21.9º. From Las Provincias: La temperatura media...

Adsubia forest fire possibly caused by a Chinese Lantern

August 6th
A watchful neighbour in Adsubia called the police on Monday night when they saw that someone had launched a chinese lantern in this forested area. They also took a photo on their mobile phone to try and locate where the lantern had come from. Firefighters quickly came to the scene but were unable to find a fire or the remains of the lantern. However, next morning there was a small fire in the same place and 100m2 of forest was burned before it was extinguished. If the two events can be linked it means a fine of over 600 Euros to the lantern launchers. The sale of Chinese lanterns is prohibited in Spain. (From Press Release) Eds Note: There are calls to ban them in UK too, following a huge fire at a plastic recycling plant initiated by one, and farmers complain that animals die after eating the wire frames. There are restrictions on their use in Germany, Austria, Australia, Malta and Vietnam. See Telegraph July 2013.

Iboguers Music Festival gets bad press

August 6th
The Iboguers pop music festival which was held in the Plaza de la Constitución a couple of weeks ago has been much criticised - not only because of its poor publicity and last minute organisation, but because the festival was effectively parachuted in from Madrid and also its profile does not match with the Town's stated strategic plan to develop quality, family tourism; culture, gastronomy and environmental values. From XAD Turismo de iboguers.. (Eds note: I must admit it was a surreal surprise to come across a group of young people bathing in the "Donkey" fountain next to the desalination plant that Sunday morning !)

Spain’s Beaches are a Treasure Trove of Biodiversity

August 5th
Almost half of the 3,500 or so beaches along the Spanish coast form part of the Natura 2000 network, the main conservation, management and sustainable development instrument for biodiversity in the European Union. On its 10,000 kilometers (about 6,200 miles) of coastline, Spain has 3,458 beaches, of which approximately 1,557 - or 44.74 percent - are part of Natura 2000, the Environment Ministry said. for full story see: Latino Daily News

Building could be allowed on land affected by fire

August 5th
Land destroyed by forest fires may soon be able to be built on without waiting the requisite 30 years, although the government admits it will have to act with caution. But agriculture minister Miguel Arias Cañete says he does not see why structures of 'general social interest' should not be built on charred plots, a description in which he includes schools, hospitals and prisons. For full story see: ThinkSpainThinkSpain

Xàbia receives cash boost

August 4th
Xàbia's municipal coffers have received a boost of €385,804 from Madrid, being an adjustment to the 2011 state subvention to municipalities. The money will be used to pay off outstanding loans at the end of the year and make investments which do not require maintenance. How the money is spent is regulated by law. Las Provincias - Xàbia recibe..

Xàbia denied grant to renovate Plana windmill

August 4th
The Valencia Government has rejected Xàbia's application for a grant of €20,000 for the restoration of Windmill No 2 on la Plana - having apparently lost out to other project applications. The other 20,000 comes from the towns's Participatory budget and it seems that the rehabilitation will go ahead despite the absence of the grant. Las Provincias - Xàbia recibe..

Spanish austerity's brain drain

August 4th
Scientists in Spain claim the long-term future of the country is being sacrificed, because of what they call "short-sighted" austerity measures. Research and development in Spain has been cut by around 40% in the past five years. The Spanish government says the private sector needs to do more, but many scientists are simply leaving Spain and taking their work abroad. See BBC Video on BBC News Europe

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