The Destruction of the Spanish Coasts…

Gandia Beach, Pedalo, Appartments

There is an important hold-the-mirror-up-to-reality article in El Pais about the well-advanced destruction of the Spanish coasts.

You can read the original here in Spanish or try your luck with Google Translate, which gets things totally the wrong way round sometimes in its English version, e.g. “by 2030 the entire Spanish coast is untouched by human activities.” – Err I think the article actually says that by 2030 the entire Spanish coast will be affected/damaged by human activity – that’s if things continue at the current rate:

More than 50% of the beaches and 70% of the dunes belonging to the Spanish coast have been damaged or seriously altered; 60% of the wetlands that were present in 1950 have disappeared; more than 60% of the land immediately surrounding the beaches on the Mediterranean, southern Atlantic, and island coastlines, has been urbanised.

So by 2030, bye bye to the rest. The concrete necklace that separates Spain from the sea will be complete.

But wasn’t there a ‘Ley de Costas’ (Law of the Coasts) that was passed to protect this fragile ecosystem?

According to the article it is largely steam rolled by all-powerful corporations, with local councils (who need/want the cash) in their back pockets.

What’s the solution?

I suspect it has to be ground-up – people have to choose to look for well-established and/or environmentally conscious holiday locations, rather than booking into the big new resorts that have just landed on the latest bit of ‘pristine’ coastline…

Unfortunately we are due to spend some time before the season is over in one-such new beach urbanización on Spain’s southern Atlantic coast (visiting relatives there), and having read the above article, I don’t feel overly happy about that…

We’ll think more carefully about trips like this in the future, and try to keep to the kind of eco-friendly place we were lucky enough to find in Asturias.

15 thoughts on “The Destruction of the Spanish Coasts…

  1. Mike CJ

    Here in Lanzarote “Costas” seems to have teeth, thank goodness, and we haven’t suffered from any of this. Almost all of our coastline is natural, original and beautiful.

    Do come and visit!

  2. Ashleigh

    Ugh…hopefully, articles like that one will make a difference. Balance is the hardest hing to achieve…especially when money is involved…

  3. BrianA

    Why pick on the Costas. The same poorly controlled development has taken place inland as well. It is impossible to drive through scenic areas without coming across unsympathetic construction round every corner. Everyone wants a house with a view, thereby destroying the view for someone else.
    Where they are trying to (retrospectively) apply the 1988 laws, it is being fiercely opposed by local owners and councils.

  4. Emmie

    There is currently a campaign to save one of the few unspoilt beaches on the Costa de la Luz – El Palmar.
    They want to turn it into a concrete monstrosity.
    They are trying to 500,000 signatures so they can overturn the planning permission.
    Thank you

  5. DBMark

    Well, Ben chose wisely with Asturias. There are loads of unspoilt countryside, beaches, mountains etc in the north. Yes, you can find towns/cities too in the Basque country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, but you’re never far from a deserted beach or a picturesque mountain village. It is a shame about much of the Med – the price of progress and development I suppose. Try finding an english village that still has all its inhabitants living/working there and not commuting to a big city.

  6. TrulyMiss

    Hi Ben, delighted to see some new posts…I’ve only discovered notesfromspain and it’s sister site notesinspanish recently! We’ve had a similar problem in Ireland with bad planning decisions causing disastrous development in gorgeous locations. The long process of correcting those bad decisions has only just begun and is likley to continue for a long time. Perhaps the planners in Spain could start on a similar process…

  7. Chris Wright

    Hi Ben,

    Good post. I´ve been living in Spain for over 5 years and i like Spaniards easy going attitude. However sometimes this works against them. Let me give you an example, sometimes i find their reaction to corruption a little mistifying.

    Take “el caso Malaya” a corruption case in 2005 in Marbella where the whole city council were implicated in accepting bribes from Property Developers / Construction Companies. Try to guess which of a,b or was the most common response when i asked Spaniards for their opinion.

    a) Corruption happens everywhere – that´s life.
    b) We can´t do anything all the parties are the same.
    c) I´d probably have done the same in their position.

    Ben, what´s your guess?

    Read about “Malaya” in Spanish or English in Wikipedia

  8. Simon from Cortijada Los Gázquez

    Hi Ben, I believe that there should be a carbon tax on flying to and from your holiday destination, unless you are holidaying in a proven carbon neutral destination. (i.e. with us at Los Gázquez for example).
    However, that tax revenue should not be put into the general pool but used for developing brown field sites into sustainable housing/communities or (as in reference to your post) used for restoring bankrupt and unsustainable tourist development into reserve zones.
    Our Andalucia boasts some beautiful natural and national parks on the Mediterranean and almost as a consequence they are under pressure from bad agricultural practice and development. However, there is space between the resorts that could be transformed into sustainable and cultural destinations. Build in some exclusion zones, re-prioritise the value of native ecosystems and hey presto you have a solution.
    You just have the near impossible job of convincing people that this is the kind of holiday they want instead of the banality of a sanitised beach or a ‘Flintstones’ inspired golf course. (there is one too, near Murcia!)

    I’m glad your back on the blog once again.

    Best wishes to you and Marina, Simon.

  9. Parubin

    The north coast is mainly unspoilt. Is is a safe bet to say that the most beautiful sandy beaches in Spain are located in Cantabria and Galicia.

  10. Andrew

    I spent some time in Benidorm recently and very nice it was too. It was very busy which means that the ‘over’ development provided for beds in hotels, seats in restaurants and jobs for those working in those places.

    I’m not sure I would deny anywhere the opportunity to create the same infrastructure (staring at trees is nice but it doesn’t pay the bills) but the great thing about Spain is its scale and it does offer something for everyone.

    Nice to see you blogging again btw. I must say I miss the old days when you had lots to say about your adopted country. All the best.

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