Coastal Law

The beginning of the end for Spain’s failed Coastal Law

Feb 22nd 2011
The Spanish Coastal Law was yesterday delivered what ecologists see as a mortal blow as political pressure builds to maintain the status quo in terms of seaside development.
The goal of the 1988 Coastal Law was to reduce the real estate excesses on Spanish coasts by making it illegal to build too close to the shoreline and by taking back properties considered to be in the public domain near the sea. In 2008, the Environment Ministry tweaked theMaritime Navigation Law to allow the sale and purchase of properties built before the law came into effect.

In any case, the 1988 law, which banned construction within 100 meters of Spain’s shores, has been roundly ignored despite the law stipulating that buildings infringing on the minimum distance must be demolished by 2018. Many expatriates purchased homes on Spain’s coasts without notification from either the bank or notaries that the property had been built on public land. When the law came into effect these homeowners found they were unable to sell and that their properties could be expropriated by the state.

On the other hand, the government has used the Coastal Law as a bargaining chip with its current parliamentary ally, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). Within the Sustainable Economy Law the government supports a change to the Hydrocarbons Law that would allow a Petronor concession built on public marshland to remain operational past its 2012mandate. Former PNV leader Josu Jon Imaz is the president of Petronor. The Popular Party and the CiU lodged proposals to alter the law last autumn but the motion was beaten by a single vote in the Parliamentary Environment Committee.

“Modifying the Coastal Law through the Sustainable Economy Law does not seem right to me,” Pedro Antonio Rios, director general of Spanish Coasts at the Environment Ministry, said. “I think it would be better to say what you want to do with the law.”
“Those that defend the Coastal Law drive modifications to reprieve factories through the back door of the regulation,” Greenpeace spokesperson Pilar Marcos said. “There is a lot of noise,” said Marcos. “They say there are 1,500 to 2,000 people in all of Spain. If that is accurate, it represents very few people against the majority of the country. That does not justify altering the law.”

El Pais English Edition

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