Battle for Jávea Port

The 12 year battle for Jávea Port - and it's not over yet

Article which appeared in the Grapevine July 2011 - by Christine Betterton-Jones

Jávea used to be called "the Pearl of the Costa Blanca" and Jávea Port is a particularly desirable jewel for developers to get their hands on. The sheltered cove to the south of the Cabo de San Antonio has been used by fishing boats since time immemorial, but today's harbour wall was built only in 1957.

The Port is under the overall management of the Valencia Government (Generalitat Valenciana). Its harbour is multi-purpose with an area for commercial fishing boats, a concession for the Club Nautico, (which expires in 2017) with around 380 moorings and some 270 berths owned and managed by the Generalitat. There is also a slipway next to the fishing docks. This was initially managed by a company which rented out sailing dinghys, but its contract lapsed and afterwards there was a free for all, the slipway being used by anyone who could fit their boat on the hard-standing. In 2009 the Valencia Ministry for Infrastructure put a stop to all that, blocking the slipway and fencing it off. The idea was to control this area with a view to making new management concessions. Since then it has been used only as a parking place for a rusting wreck.

So much for the harbour as it is now. It certainly needs tidying up and improvement…but wouldn't it make a lovely spot for a private marina ?

This has been the basis of a series of proposals to enlarge the port. The first was presented by the private company Gestora Dársena Sur in 1999. It was rejected unanimously by the Town Council, and also rejected by the national Ministry of Public Works for environmental reasons. So, that was that, until May 2003 when another assault was made, this time by Marina Punte del Este. This company was extremely persistent. Despite their plans being unanimously rejected by the Town Council, they presented a modified plan in 2004 and went around collecting signatures from shoppers at the Thursday market. The modified proposal was also thrown out, but this time there were waverers among the council members. In 2007, the Town Hall tried to bar the door against any further assaults by passing a resolution against any port expansion.

No such luck. In 2008, another proposal was received. This time it was not from a private developer, but from the Valencia Ministry of Infrastructure. The big guns had been brought to bear on the Port. Interestingly, the Ministry's proposals seemed to be a cut down version of the 2004 Marina Punte del Este proposal.

Valencia's 2007 hosting of the Americas Cup had ignited a huge push to construct and upgrade marinas all along the Valencian coast. Thus in Jávea Port there were to be moorings for 1600 boats, shops, workshops, service areas and a multi-story car park. The Club Nautico and fishing boats would be moved and a modern marina constructed. There would be new jobs and a boost to the economy of the town. To cap it all, the Generalitat earmarked €22,500,000 for the expansion - work to begin in 2009 and last three years.

Although the Town Hall rejected the proposal, (the PP and PSOE abstaining), it seemed that the port would finally succumb.

However, there was strong popular feeling against the scheme, voiced through demonstrations, public meetings, letters and petitions. People variously felt: "Demolition and rebuilding the harbour wall will damage the marine reserve"; "Three years of building disruption will ruin us - look at what happened in the Old Town" ; "Road access to the Port is already bad, there's no space to make it better" ; "We don't want a private marina"; "If you want more moorings, just re-organise the existing harbour"; "How come Valencia wants to spend spend €20 million on a marina we haven't asked for, when what we really need is a municipal swimming pool an auditorium and proper school buildings?"

The "No" camp was reinforced by Greenpeace which identified Jávea Port expansion as a Black Spot, and the Valencian parliament which ruled that there could be no expansion unless Jávea and the Valencia Ministry of Environment also agreed. Mayor Monfort prepared to fight the case in Brussels armed with thousands of signatures.

Then the fighting and battle cries suddenly ceased. There was deafening silence in the press. The economic crash at the end of 2008 had come to the rescue.

But it is only a truce. As far was we know the plan still exists and perhaps Jávea is being lulled into a false sense of security. We need to be sure exactly what the situation is. If there are any future plans for changes to Jávea Port, then they should originate from the people of the town, not from powerful, faceless, outside interests wearing Armani suits.

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