June 2017 News Headlines

Spain's economy on the up

June 30th
Spain is heading for its third consecutive year of economic growth of just over 3%, the fastest of any large economy in the euro area. It is creating about 500,000 jobs a year. According to Luis de Guindos, the economy minister, last month the country’s GDP surpassed its pre-crisis peak. Much of the credit for this recovery goes to structural reforms the government pushed through in 2012. Spain’s renewed growth has sounder foundations than in the past. In the early years of this century the economy was powered by construction, which accounted for up to a fifth of GDP, and by foreign loans. This time the growth is led by exports, which have reached 33% of GDP (up from 23% in 2009). “We’ve recovered competitiveness,” says Mr de Guindos. Spain is now continental Europe’s second-biggest car producer and exporter after Germany. Tourism is booming, too. The country has diversified its exports into chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery and professional services. More than 150,000 Spanish companies export, half as many again as in 2007. For full story see:The Economist

Iberdrola and MIT Energy Initiative announce $10.3 million collaboration to spur energy and environmental innovation

June 30th
The $10.3 million, five-year collaboration aims to advance technologies and policies that contribute to the energy transition and the fight against climate change, supporting numerous efforts through the MIT Energy Initiative and related MIT initiatives. “Climate change and the policies created to address it have significant implications for businesses — it will fundamentally change products, services, and operating models,” Galán said. “Successful companies need to actively seek the opportunities a clean economy creates. Iberdrola constitutes a perfect example of the potential of the electricity sector. The company is a world leader in renewable energies, which represent almost 60 percent of Iberdrola’s mix, and we plan to reduce further our carbon dioxide emission intensity by at least 50 percent by 2030. "MIT, one of the world's leading idea incubators, is the perfect research collaborator to deliver the technologies and solutions that will lead us towards a clean energy future,” Galán added. For full story see: Renewable Energy Magazine.

Wildfire season starts

June 30th
Two major wildfires in Spain hit the news over the past week: one in the Doñana Natural Park, in Andalucia where 2,000 residents have been evacuated. Two holiday parks, the Parador Nacional State-run hotel and the El Arenosillo Army barracks have all been emptied and their occupants forced to flee for their own safety. (See: ThinkSpainThe second fire is in the Sierra Calderona nature reserve spanning the Valencia and Castellón provincial borders. This fire has wiped out 500 hectares forcing hundreds of evacuations and blocking the A-23 Valencia-Zaragoza-Huesca motorway. A country house in Segorbe and several farms in Soneja, both in the province of Castellón, have been evacuated as the flames rage out of control between the villages of Gàtova (Valencia province) and Altura (Castellón province). The fire is believed to have been started by a lightning strike. For full story see .ThinkSpain

A million bottles a minute: world's plastic binge 'as dangerous as climate change'

June 30th
A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change. More than 480bn plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from about 300bn a decade ago. If placed end to end, they would extend more than halfway to the sun. By 2021 this will increase to 583.3bn, according to the most up-to-date estimates from Euromonitor International’s global packaging trends report. Most plastic bottles used for soft drinks and water are made from polyethylene terephthalate (Pet), which is highly recyclable. But as their use soars across the globe, efforts to collect and recycle the bottles to keep them from polluting the oceans, are failing to keep up. Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean. For full story see: The Guardian

Divers caught fishing illegally and expropriating archaeological artefacts

June 30th
On June 26th, a member of the public called the Denia police to report suspicious diving activity in the marine reserve of the cabo de San Antonio. As a result the coast guard arrested three divers, plus their boat and equipment. The catch of ten fish, including bream, sea-bass and grouper, were donated to the Santa Llúcia residential home. (From: La Marina Plaza Earlier, on June 21st, the Xàbia police caught a French diver who was lifting a piece of 2000 year old amphora from the sea bed near the Portitxol Island. The case was referred to GEAS (Special Underwater Activities Group of the Civil Guard - the unit of the Spanish Civil Guard in charge of the search and rescue of people and the location and recovery of objects in the aquatic environment), and the culprit charged with expropriating historical heritage. GEAS is considering a dive in the area, to see if there are more archaeological remains. From: Las Provincias

Yet more rubbish on the beach after San Juan

June 30th
San Juan passed in Xàbia without reported adverse incidents, but in Valencia the cleaning operation collected 89% more waste than the previous year, going from 18 to 34 tons of garbage. According to the Councillor for Beaches and Cleaning, Pilar Soriano, they collected 32,000 kilos of waste from northern beaches compared to a little under 16,000 in 2016, and n beaches 3,000 kilos compared to 2,300 last year from the southern beaches. The Red Cross dealt with four people for alcohol poisoning, and one for burns.

New heatwave throughout Spain breaks records for minimum temperatures

June 14th
For the first time since Saturday, when summer kicked in with high temperatures throughout Spain, Tuesday produced two record breakers, albeit at the lower end of the thermometer. In Zamora, the minimum temperature was 22.2ºC, the highest minimum for a June since records began in 1920. Meanwhile, in Salamanca, the minimum was 21.7ºC, the highest since 1940. So far no records have been broken in terms of top temperatures, but AEMET noted 40.6ºC in Granada, which spokesman Rubén del Campo said was “10ºC higher than normal for the time of the year.” For full story see: El Pais in English

Spain: time to get serious about addressing climate change

June 11th
The Spanish government’s own forecasts indicate that, far from reducing emissions, Spain is on course to increase them over the next 20 years. In 2040, the country will spill the equivalent of 353.7 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CDE) into the atmosphere, which will be 18 million tons more than in 2015. Energy is responsible for almost 80% of Spanish CO2 emissions. Within that sphere, electricity generation accounted for 26% of emissions in 2015, while transportation represented 25%. In order to reach the Paris objectives, the emissions from these sectors need to be tackled. Hence, both the Environment and Energy ministries are involved in drafting the new law before it is sent to Brussels. As far as electricity is concerned, technological progress coupled with lower costs for renewables brings closer the prospect of clean energy production. But parties and industry representatives must still reach consensus on matters such as the role of nuclear power, a schedule for the phaseout of fossil fuels, and the role of home generation. Meanwhile, clean transportation presents a challenge, with electric cars still representing a negligible share of vehicles on Spanish roads. Between 1990 and 2015, transportation emissions grew by 41%. If nothing is done, the government forecasts an increase of another 15% by 2030. for full story see: El Pais in English

New General Town Plan puts an end to urban expansion in Xàbia

Public scrutiny phase launched

June 7th
The preliminary version of the new General Plan (PGOU) has now been made public. From now until September 8th, members of the public can make their suggestions and complaints so they can be studied before putting the plan to a plenary council meeting. The plans can be seen in the Casa de Cultura (first floor) and on the Town Hall website (ajxabia.com). The philosophy of the plan is as follows: It seeks to put an end to the expansionism of urban development seen in recent years, proposing an "inward" growth, that is to say, using already developed urban areas and not extending into more territory. This proposal also begins to define the type of construction that is wanted in Xàbia, to recover the values ​​of the Mediterranean architecture and be more energy efficient. Traditional dry stone walls are also protected and the three historical centres are declared as items of Local Relevance (BRL): the Old Town, the Duanes of the Port, and the Granadella. The preliminary version includes all the sectoral regulations that have been approved by the regional administration in recent years (forestry, flood zones or coastal areas), thus providing legal security to all planning.

In general terms, the urbanizable land, is cut from 10.5 million square meters earmarked in the 1990 PGOU, to 2'89 million. The Town Hall proposes a total growth limit of 1.3 million square metres. Among the areas to be protected are sectors I, II and III of the Saladar, which has been tagged as a protected rural area of ​​archaeological value; The golf sector (more than 1 million square meters have been declassified) leaving the area where the golf course is located as a sports area.

Another pocket of land that will remain as a protected rural area is the public park of Capsades and Rafals, near Duanes which is reserved as a public park. From: Town Hall website For background about how we have struggled to reach this point see: General Plan
For Mayor Chulvi's comment on this plan see: Chulvi comment on new town plan

Local police launch a mediator

June 7th
The Xàbia local police have identified a mediating police officer, whose job it is to sort out minor conflicts between residents (e.g. noisy pets and gardeners schedules), so that disagreements can be nipped in the bud before ending up as a formal complaint or lawsuit. The officer in question is Juan Luis Sánchez. For more information call 965790081 or 682 083 314

Spain’s Environment Ministry downsizes giant solar project in Extremadura by 170 MW

June 7th
The Spanish Ministry of Environment has decided to downsize a 394.1 MW PV project planned by Iberia Termosolar, a joint venture between Spanish developer Valsolar and German-based S.A.G. Solarstrom, in Spain’s region of Extremadura by 170.1 MW. The ministry has decided to approve only two of the four plants included in the phase I of project. The Ministry said the two other projects were not approved as these represented a threat for several animal species present in the area. Alternative sites for the two projects were also rejected due to other technical and environmental issues. After Spain introduced the moratorium for solar in 2012, not a single large-scale PV project has been built in the country, although several projects such as the Iberia Termosolar’s projects were announced across several southern regions over the past years. All of these projects, which were originally conceived to sell power to the local grid at market prices, could now eventually compete in Spain’s upcoming 3 GW renewable energy auction. From PV Magazine

Xàbia, a focus for an environmental study.

June 7th
The Fundación Oceanogràfic will be carrying out an important study of the waters around Xàbia over the next few months for determine the methods of conservation of biodiversity. From their results, it will determine an action plan for the conservation of the environment with the assistance of residents and visitors to Xàbia. For full story see: Javeamigos

The Moscatel grape - a queen without a throne

June 6th
The truly distinctive gastronomic product of the Marina Alta region is the muscatel, a grape variety known as "de Alejandria"; it can withstand long droughts and produces large fruits. it had its heyday in the late nineteenth century and early 20th century with the raisin industry, but now it is making a comeback with the production of new wines. However, there are fewer and fewer vineyards in the Marina Alta. In Teulada-Moraira, 200 hectares of cultivated vineyards, but most of the vines belong to a variety that was planted in the 70s from grafting to produce table grapes. These plants have a limited life of 45 years, are now dying. The success of the grape and its wines depends upon developing a local identity, as well as creating integrated wines of the Comunidad Valenciana. Marketing and commitment to the product is also important. These were the conclusions of a meeting held in Denia by the Regulatory Council of the DOP Alicante. From :Las Provincias

Green Energy - The story of wind farms in Spain

June 6th
Between 2004 and 2011, two-thirds of the current wind capacity was installed. Thanks to public money and premiums, Spain was at the top of the league regarding wind technology. But even those passionate about renewable energy recognise that a lot of the growth took place in a climate of speculation and haphazard development. In 2011, when Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party took power, there was a freeze on green energy. In 2008, the industry employed more than 40,000 people. Today, it employs half that figure. While the most ambitious climate change agreement in history was being signed in Paris in 2015, wind power was entering its darkest hour in Spain. There was zero increase in capacity, allowing India to overtake and push Spain into fifth place –after China, America and Germany. And if in 2013 wind energy was the top form of generation technology in Spain, 2015 saw it take third place behind nuclear and coal. Recently, the sector has been on the move again thanks to new government auctions for renewable energy installation. One of the most frequent criticisms levelled against green energy is that surplus energy cannot be stored. “It is a lie,” says Monica Aguado, who holds a PhD in industrial engineering and lectures at Navarre University while also heading an experimental micro-grid that is being used to control the electricity supply to the CENER lab from sun and wind. The experiment involves a warehouse with four storage systems – lithium-ion, flow, super-capacitors and lead-acid batteries. Depending on supply and demand, a model is designed to store and distribute energy. At times, a diesel engine is needed, Aguado confesses. But she insists that we could live 100% on renewable energy if storage was properly dimensioned. If it’s possible on this experimental island, it’s possible in the country as a whole. Perhaps so, but currently clean energy accounts for just 16.15% of total consumption in Spain. According to EU guidelines, this should reach 20% by 2020. For full story see: El País in English

Granadella will be closed to cars during July and August

June 2nd
The popular Granadella Cove will be closed to vehicular traffic during July and August in a bid to encourage sustainable tourism as well as meet the requirements of the Confederación Hidrográfica del Júcar (CHJ) which has recently imposed a parking prohibition in the dry river bed. The beach area has been voted one of the best in Spain but traffic trying to enter the cove has created havoc in recent years, even preventing the access of emergency vehicles. The main road closed between 10.00am and 7.00pm every day from Saturday 1st July until Wednesday 30th August. Aacess to visitors will be provided by a free bus shuttle every 15-20 minutes.The road will be open outside of these times whilst residents living in the affected zone will be able to access it during the restrictions with an appropriate identification card (which are being processed in the Tourist Info offices) as well as taxis and workers such as gardeners and pool cleaners. Parking in Calle Tío Catalá will be reserved for residents only whilst those visitors who arrive before 10.00am will be able to park in the grounds of the former Guardia Civil barracks and in Calle Pic Tort. For full story see: Javeamigos

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