Although the new legislation relating to the Ley de Costas has brought relief to tens of thousands of property owners and developers throughout Spain, it has been slammed by ecologists who say that the reforms appear to do little to protect the coastline and focus on easing the issues relating to constructing on the coastline, supporting those who have built illegally.
Yesterday Greenpeace protesters carried out an unusual protest in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of the environment in Madrid.
Just before eight o'clock in the morning two vans screeched to a halt in front of the building, and Greenpeace activists piled out, dragging beach loungers, sunshades, a cocktail bar and bags of sand into the street, constructing a "private luxury beach" in front of the Ministry as a protest against the new reforms.
The beach was rapidly occupied by activists dressed in suitable beach apparel, drinking cocktails served by a cocktail waiter, whilst other protesters displayed prominent posters to frame the protest. Ministry security attempted to remove the beach, but were outnumbered, and Greenpeace photographers and the media who'd been tipped off that the protest was taking place, had enough time to get some good photographs guaranteeing media coverage, before the police arrived to dislodge the protesters, enabling security to clear away the beach, whilst workers arriving for their daily shift continued to shake the sand out of their shoes for several hours afterwards.
In the opinion of Greenpeace the reforms "could not be worse."
A spokesperson talked about the effects of the reforms. "We spent four days trying to understand the details of this law, and after consulting with three separate lawyers have all come to the same conclusion: this law is a clear step backwards in the fight to protect the environment and the coast and to guaranteeing public use of the coastline.
This new law actually signifies a privatisation of coastline with a clear message, everything was okay during the years of the urbanistic boom, and all those who speculated can continue to do so in the future. The urbanistic amnesty can now be added to the government's fiscal amnesty."
Greenpeace are asking that the anti-project of the law be withdrawn as it does not "offer better protection for our coastlines", and in their opinion does nothing other than legalise illegal construction and reward all those who have built illegally on virgin coastline and protected land.
Greenpeace believe that more money should be invested into maintaining wild coastline and protecting it for the use of all, creating sustainable tourism which supports long-term sustainable employment, and that if the economic benefits of preservation were calculated, they would far outweigh the short-tem benefits of construction, "Investing into the environment is investing into the coast.
When we´re talking about austerity, of cuts, of coastal development, we shouldn´t forget that true austerity begins by conserving what this planet gives us for free. It's environment. And what better way than by making the Ley de Costas into a genuine tool for conservation, and not using it as a ready made tool for businesses and municipalities who allow the destruction of their coast, which are now backed up by legality."
Full details of the activities of Greenpeace in Spain, together with all their documentation and rerports relating to the coastal issues in Spain can be found on their website, easily accessed by typing in Greenpeace españa.
Images: Courtesy of Greenpeace
All Text and Images are Subject to Copyright