September 2016 News Headlines

Amjasa donates to research on marine protection and sustainable fisheries

Sept 28th
Amjasa has donated €3000 to IROX ( the Xabia Institute for Oceanographic Research) to support the "Roca dels Felius" project to promote good decisions in the areas of marine protection and sustainable fisheries. Once the study is completed the institute is committed to give a conference on the results obtained. From: Xà

Granadella fire property damage would have been less had there been a perimeter firebreak

Sept 29th
Jose Antonio Gomez Serrano, Forest Engineer, specializing in Forest Fire Prevention has stated that the damage to property caused by the Granadella fire would have been less had statutory requirements for a 15m firebreak and self-protection been enacted. He suggested: that those affected (in parallel to taking steps with their respective insurance companies) " should get together to study the possibility of making a judicial claim because their developments did not have perimeter firebreaks or plans of self-protection against forest fires, which are obligatory as stated by the state and regional regulations ". An idea of the guidelines and regulations can be seen in this document (in Spanish): NORMA TÉCNICA DE INFRAESTRUCTURAS EN ÁREAS URBANIZADAS

Work to begin on Xàbia auditorium in second quarter of 2017

Sept 28th
Xàbia's new theatre / auditorium is expected to begin to take shape next year. It will have seating for 500 people and a stage of 17x11 metres which will take advantage of the naturally sloping ground to be set low down. The building will be tailored to meet the needs of a variety of users: Theatre actors, musicians, artists) . There will be a basement for storage and dressing rooms . There is unput from the acoustics department of the Ploytecghnic University of Valencia to ensure good sound chracateristics. From: La Marina Plaza.

Swimming pool for Xàbia gets one step closer

Sept 26th
The Valencia Government has committed to provide funds for a swimming pool for Xàbia. The first step will be its inclusion in the budgets of the Generalitat for 2017. With this first funding will cover the tender and drafting fo the project. Then in 2018 budgets, there will be funding necessary for its construction. From: Levante Ed's note: In 2005, Valencia promised a pool if Xàbia built a trinquet court. The Town fulfilled its half of the bargain, but had no joy in relation to the pool. from more see: July 2015 News Headlines

The Valencia parliament closes the door on Saladar development project

Sept 26th
An ambitious development project promoted for the Saladar area by its 97 land owners has been stopped by a change in the law in Valencia. The project, on a flood prone wetland and the last development area along the Xàbia coast, consisted of a thousand houses and two luxury hotels in the creation of a "City of Sport" with finance from a British investment fund. The law of 1993, which only protected properly catalogued wetlands, (hence leaving the others as prey to developers) now covers them all, officially catalogued or not. The change in the law also conforms to a number of court rulings that a wetland is a wetland, whether it has been catalogued or not. From La Marina Plaza For background on the controversy see: Saladar

Old Police Station to be a Youth Centre

Sept 21st
The Xàbia Department for Youth, directed by Ximo Segarra, is converting the old Local Police station (in Plaza de la Constitución) into a Youth Centre for training and leisure. The design and features of this new area were decided following a survey that the Department conducted in June. (From Mayor Chulvi Facebook)

Residents whose properties were badly affected by the Granadella fire have a fiery meeting with town hall

Sept 21st
Sparks flew at the meeting between residents and local and regional officials on September 19th. The limited types of state aid were explained and then the issue of abandoned, uncleaned plots and their contribution to fire damage was hotly debated. The surreal issue of having to pay for a minor works license to fell a burned tree in one's incinerated garden was raised. For English versions reports on this meeting see: Meeting with residents after Granadella fire Note: On Sept 21st the mayor made the following announcement "Xàbia has suspended by mayoral decree the rate of minor work for 30 days. This way we avoid that the owners that have to do cleaning chores at the plots affected by the fire should pay any municipal canon. The suspension will run from September 26th to October 26th." Also reported in La Marina Plaza

Town Hall issues statement explaining the Ramblars fire

Sept 21st
In view of the amount of mis-information going around about the smouldering Ramblars fire, Xàbia Town Hall decided to issue a statement explaining that this type of fire, which was smouldering without oxygen within a huge pile of plant matter could not be extinguished by water. Nor can it be removed by heavy machinery, since this would only cause it to burst into flame again. The only solution is to allow it to burn until all the vegetable matter has been consumed (a matter of a few more days). A safety perimeter had been establsihed to prevent the fire spreading to forested areas. For full statement see: Javeamigos

Meetings on forest management and aftermath of fires

Sept 20th
Municipalities including Xàbia and Benitatxell affected by recent forest fires had meetings with officials for the Valencia Government to assess management of fires and measures that need to be taken in the future. Mayor José Chulvi said that "the priority must be the management of the forest and, above all, of the homes located next to forest areas. Administrations have to coordinate and get involved in cleaning as well as in creating effective evacuation plans. Xàbia is a town of 68 square kilometres with a large forest area and we need to balance environmental protection with the security of people and property." Immediately after the first meeting, Xàbia was to host a meeting of the Governing Board of the Diputación de Alicante to explore ways to coordinate their efforts in prevention and in creating security plans for the urbanized areas. These plans and the work that would be done, will complete the important recent work of adapting public spaces owned by the Ayuntamiento. About 200 residents affected by the fires also met to hear firsthand about financial assistance which will be available from the Government in an open meeting at the Sala Polivalente in Portal del Clot. For full story and more details see: Javeamigos

Spain reflects on 30 years in the EU: From poverty to prosperity, Brussels put up the cash and Spaniards brought the ideas

Sept 19th
Back in 1986, when Spain became a fully-paid-up member, two-thirds of workers were in the agricultural sector, and had no Social Security provisions, meaning no State pension or sick pay. Rural dwellers often had no electricity or running water, relying on wells; just 10 years previously, its black-and-white TVs only had one, State-controlled channel which lauded Franco in every programme, and by the time of its EU entry, still only had two channels. Roads were potholed, cracked, dangerous and often missing - motorways did not start to appear until the 1980s or 1990s - and its GDP was less than half the EU average. The difference in 30 years is palpable…for full, in depth story see:Think Spain

Reservoirs have lowest water reserves since 2008

Sept 19th
The summer season has caused a 30% reduction of the quantity of water held in reservoirs in the region and they now stand at a quarter of capacity. If there's no significant rain before next spring, the reservoirs could become dry. Two river systems have an emergency status: The Rio Serpis and Marina Baja, while the Marina Alta's status is high alert. Apart from shortages of drinking water, high temperatures, pests and lack of rainfall have had a negative effect on crops: vines down by 30%, almonds 40%, carob 30%, olives more than 50% ( something branded as "catastrophic"), cereals between 20 and 50% (depending on the area), and honey 20% down. From: Las Provincias.

Costa Blanca to host Full-time coached packages for athletes and triathletes

Sept 19th
Spain is officially the sunniest European country and the Costa Blanca has been declared to be amongst the healthiest in the world by the World Health Organisation. With an average of over 300 days of sunshine every year the area if almost guaranteed to be bathed in sunshine when the N Europe is wet, windy and icy. With the climate, it is surprising that the area is under-utilised as a base for year-round training by many athletes. In a collaborative venture, this is about to change with a programme of training that will be open to a limited number of European triathletes and athletes who would like to live and be coached in the Costa Blanca: From: TriAthlete Europe

Mobile refueling unit provided helicopters more firefighting time

Sept 19th
In a pioneering move made during the Granadella fire, the Diputación de Alicante arranged for a fuel tanker to be based in Jávea so that its two firefighting helicopters could refuel quickly and easily. Each helicopter could fly for 2 hours. The refuelling facilities at the Cocoll base (Castell de Castells) were too limited for this size of fire, so they would have to go to Mutxamel and back to refuel, a round trip of one hour. The upshot of using mobile refueling in Jávea was that these two aircraft were able to provide 50% more firefighting time than those provided by other emergency services. The local Surveillance and Rescue Society (SVS) company provided the land for the landing and re-fueling of the choppers. From La Marina Plaza.

Pinosol provides important imformation on wilfires in urban areas in Spain

Cypress fire-resistance a myth

Sept 16th
The affected area of the Granadella fire outlines a unicorn head. The main part is woods and scrub, but the horn of nearly two kilometers consists of rows of houses in the Pinosol urbanisation, extending to Capsades. Raul Quílez, wild fire expert who works at the international level in the scientific analysis of these disasters stated: "I believe we are faced with possibly the greatest progress in Spain of a forest fire in an urbanized area. The private gardens functioned as wicks, spreading fire generated by the sparks of the main front". Certain gardens are combustible: unpruned palm trees, heather fences and cypresses hedges gave continuity to the fire. The fire highlights the absence of planning with villas being built next to the mountain without the minimum security zone free from vegetation. It also shows the limited self protection capacity of some owners. People had seen the famous image of the cypresses of Alcublas that had been spared from the fire of Andilla and there is the myth that this species is fire-resistant. But in that fire they were saved by other factors such as the terrain".In Xabia, people had surrounded their gas tanks with Cypress fences in the vain hope of protecting them, but the cypresses burned, and so did the gas tanks. From: Las Provincias

Spain could be first EU country with national park listed as 'in danger'

Sept 16th
Doñana is an Andalusian reserve of sand dunes, shallow streams and lagoons, stretching for 540 square kilometres (209 square miles) where flamingoes feed and wild horses and Iberian lynx still roam. But the Doñana region is said to have lost 80% of its natural water supplies due to marsh drainage, intensive agriculture, and water pollution from the mining industry. Spain now has until 1 December to declare Doñana permanently off limits for dredging and industrial activity in a report to Unesco, or face becoming the first EU country to have a national park classified as being “in danger”. For full story see: The Guardian.

UK Immigrants in Spain - the forgotten voices

Trailer of a forthcoming documentary.

Table of Contents

Meeting for those affected by the fire

Sept 14th
The Town Council of Javea ,would like to inform residents affected by the fire on September 4th about the economic assistance available to those who suffered damage caused by fire. The meeting will take place on Monday 19th September at 19.00 pm in the Multipurpose Room of the Portal del Clot. The grants available from the central government will also be discussed, and the requirements to be met by persons wishing to use them. The application period ends on 13 October (one month after the fire was declared extinguished).

There are different types of assistance depending on the severity of the damage: destruction of housing / structural / minor nonstructural damage / damage to essential household items. The beneficiaries of the aid must be families or those living together for economic purposes & satisfy a number of circumstances such as: that damage must have occurred in the primary residence; the income of the household is within the set limits; that the damages are directly caused by the fire and that ownership of property can be proven For those who have an insurance contract, the compensation acts as a supplement to said insurance coverage. In addition, there are also grants for communities of owners and individuals or legal owners of establishments. They must have a previously contracted insurance policy and damages not included in the policy would be covered.
From José

Ramblars fire out - but will smoulder on..

Sept 14th
The Ramblars fire has been pronounced extinguished, though the ashes are very hot, smouldering and producing smoke, and won't be approachable for about a month. In the meantime gardening businesses can take their waste to a new location in the Ramblars area, while individuals and businesses using the Punts Verds should dump it in a temporary plot near the future industrial area of Catarroges, next to Cami Cabanes and the Gorgos River (accessible form the main road). The composting plant project for Ramblars had not gone ahead and was being reviewed. From XAD

Teulada and Benitatxell opt for desalination

Sept 14th
The Water Consortium of Teulada-El Poble Nou de Benitatxell has begun to define a medium-term project to ensure water supply even in situations of extreme drought. It has opted for desalination, because the extraction of groundwater is increasingly stressing aquifers, which are starting to suffer marine intrusion and salinisation. They will expand the current desalination plants. Benitachell, would increase its current production of 3,000 cubic m3 per day to 5,800 m3 s and Teulada would increase production from 5,000m3 to 11,000 m3 This project would involve renting or buyng a portable desalination plant and has a budget of 2.8 million euros. They don't believe a regional solution will come to pass. from XAD (Ed`s note: No mention of supporting a possible expansion of the Xàbia desalination plant which would provide an addirional 14,000m3 …probably at a lower cost)

Granadella Fire advice: leave it for 18 months

Sept 12th
Reforestation in the burnt landscapes of Javea, Benitachell and Bolulla will not take place before a year and a half has lapsed, according to preliminary estimates of the technicians of the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment, Climate Change and Rural Development. Experts from the Mediterranean Centre for Environmental studies (CEAM (Click here for English version of CEAM website)) agree large burned tree trunks could be removed - but with utmost care particularly on steep slopes, so as to not adversly affect the soil. The finer material should be left behind as a protective layer for the soil, and the removed burned timbers crushed and redistributed over the land as an additional buffer against high ground temperatures. This method was used successfully in the Montgó fire. Trees in high risk areas e.g. beside roads should be removed. In the long term, a preventive silviculture could be used .e.g. planting mature oaks and other native species. The Mediterranean Centre for Environmental Studies, based in Paterna, has conducted numerous studies on reforestation and issued manuals for action based on scientific criteria from experience of 250 fires over 500 hectares in the Valencia region between 1968 and 2013. From: Las Provincias

The irony of the Ramblars green waste landfill fire

Sept 11th
Some years ago, Xàbia's Ramblars green waste landfill spontaneously burst into flames. The fired burned for more than a week. In August 2015 Xàbia Town hall asked for companies to tender for a one year contract (€336,000) to manage the green waste landfill site at Ramblars. An estimated 18,000 tonnes of garden waste was expected to be processed and packaged to be sent to another (unspecified) site. Part of the contract stated that the green waste should "not be accumulated for more than a month" and that the contractor should provide a shredder. The specification also stated that "the contractor is obliged to take all measures necessary to prevent the risk of fire in the landfill " and " to do the work to covert the raw waste into stacks so as to minimize the risk of spontaneous combustion " From: XAD In September 2016 the Town hall announced tendering for a two year (extendable) contract for €109,674 for the control and regulation of Ramblars: control and custody of these municipal facilities, monitoring of waste management (with particular interest if they are from species affected by pests), guarding against the risk of fire or flood water and controlling access only to authorized users. (XAD The closing date for tenders was September 7th. Ramblars burst into flame on September 6th (and of time of writing is still burning)

Taking stock of the Sept 4th Granadella fire

Sept 11th
The Director General of Emergencies ( Jose Maria Angel) and regional Minister of the environment, Elenia Cebrián) flew over the area incinerated by last Sunday's fire in Xàbia (final estimate: 689 hectares, less than originally thought) and stated that the burned areas will be regenerated and "under no circumstances reclassified ". He is committed to collaboration in restoration work and new forest management which will begin with round tables. He also stated, in the light of Guardia Civil and Seprona investigations that he had no doubt the fire was cause by negligence or carelessness. The most likely hypothesis was that cigarette butts discarded near the viewing point on the road up to the Cumbre from Benitatxell had ignited the fire. They were looking for two cars: one grey, the other garnet which had been seen in the area just before the fire. They were also looking for a BMW series 5 seen early on Monday morning in la Granadella. From Las Provincias. The fire highlighted the difficulties posed by developments that grew adjacent to forest areas during the construction boom. Cebrián has called for the creation of "broad security zones" between these inhabited areas and forests. From: La Marina Plaza . Meanwhile Xàbia and Benitatxell are taking different paths after the fire: Benitatxell council has declared the zone an official catastrophe, so as to get Government aid, while Xàbia has choosen not to, since the financial aid regulations include only primary residences among other drawbacks. From XAD. For Xabia press release see:Javeamigos

Valencia will ensure burnt land cannot be rezoned for construction

Sept 8th
The regional government of Valencia says it will ensure that land damaged by a recent spate of forest fires cannot be rezoned for construction purposes. On Wednesday, regional premier Ximo Puig of the Valencian Socialists (PSPV-PSOE) told reporters that his administration’s goal is “for nobody to ever have the slightest interest in burning down woodland for rezoning.” Valencia’s left-leaning regional administration – which came to power in June 2015, ending more than two decades of conservative Popular Party (PP) rule – has already overturned earlier legislation allowing land damaged by fire to be used for building “on an exceptional basis.” “This can no longer be done in the Valencia region. It can in other parts of Spain,” said Puig, who still considers it necessary to “intensify the ban so there is no doubt whatsoever.” For full story see: El Pais in English

The Fire of September 2016

Sept 5th
One of the worst blazes in living memory has burned many acres and resulted in the evacuation of more than a thousand residents and holidaymakers from the urbanisations in the hills to the south of the municipality. There are unconfirmed reports that 20 houses have been destroyed and the regional government say that they believe that the fire was started deliberately but there will be no confirmation until the inferno has been extinguished and the investigators can do their work. At the time of writing, fire-fighting assets were still fighting to bring the inferno under control, almost two years to the day after a huge fire consumed much of La Plana. The fire originated on the western slopes of the Puig Llorença below the Cumbre del Sol urbanisation at about 3.30pm. For full, and excellent report on the fire on Sept 5th and subsequent updates see: Javeamigos
For general background information about Wildfires in Spain see: Wild Fires

Spain - top Olive Oil producer

Sept 4th
Spain is the world’s top producer of olive oil. The Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva Español notes that average production in the last six seasons was over 1.3 million tons in Spain, compared with 447,700 in Italy. This group also says that Italian oil is almost entirely reserved for domestic consumption, and that most of the oil that Italy exports is in fact Spanish in origin. A recent study by GEA Iberia forecast that Spain will be responsible for half of the world’s olive oil production in the 2016/2017 season, the financial newspaper Expansión reported. The Andalusian province of Jaén, with around 550,000 hectares of olive groves and over 66 million olive trees, is Spain’s top producer. The industry association Esencia de Olivo notes that “Jaén produces more oil than the world’s second producing nation, Italy.” for full story see : El Pais in English (Ed's note: It's also the worlds second producer of opium : - El Pais in English.

New river bridges near the Port

September 2nd
Xàbioa Town Hall is to request funding from the Diputación de Alicante to assist with the renovation of the Triana bridge,which crosses the Gorgos river mouth next to the Port, budgeted at 567,382 euros with the provincial grant of some 312,060 euros amounting to 55% of the total. The project would involve the demolition of the existing bridge which suffered structural damage during the floods of 2007 and has been closed to heavy traffic including local buses for the past few years. A new wider bridge would be built, expanding its width from 12 to 15 metres. The second project would be the construction of a new bridge at the end of Calle Génova, some 200 metres upstream from the Triana bridge, that would provide a parallel alternative route to the Arenal zone to alleviate congestion during the high season along the Muntanyar I coastal road. For full story see: Javeamigos

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