Archive for the ‘Spanish coast’ Category

Mediterranean concrete

Monday, July 27th, 2009

There are currently a million homes for sale in the Mediterranean coast of Europe, half of which are in Spain. Phantom urbanizaciones extend all along the coast, with nobody to buy. 997,652 homes lie empty throughout Spain. The boom is over, but the coast will never recover until geology rends human greed and folly meaningless.

See also this article in El País on the end of the urbanisation boom of the Spanish Mediterranean and its effects.

J.G. Ballard on the Costas

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

J.G. Ballard wrote some fine landscape pieces in Cocaine Nights (1996 ) on an imaginary but all-too-real Costa del Sol, the archetype of all the Costas. A frightening contemporary vision of the present-future of this part of Spain. Note Sotogrande does not exist.

The mountains had withdrawn from the sea, keeping their distance a mile inland, Near Sotogrande the golf courses began to multiply like the symptoms of a hypertrophied grassland cancer. White-walled Andalusian pueblos presided over the greens and fairways, fortified villages guarding their pastures, but in fact these miniature townships were purpose-built villa complexes financed by Swiss and German property speculators, the winter homes not of local shepherds but of Düsseldorf ad-men and Zürich television executives.

And later

The retirement pueblos lay by the motorway, embalmed in a dream of the sun from which they would never awake. As always when I drove along the coast to Marbella I seemed to be moving through a zone that was fully accessible only to a neuroscientist and scarcely at all to a travel writer. The white facades of the villas and the apartment houses were like blocks of time that had crystallised by the side the road. Here on the Costa del Sol nothing would ever happen again and the people of the pueblos were already the ghosts of themselves.

J.G. Ballard ‘Cocaine Nights’ 1996

Destruction of the Spanish coast

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

The destruction of the Spanish coastline is subject to this slideshow in today’s Guardian. In the photos below, Benidorm in 1960 and in 2009.  A graphic example indeed, though I think the sprawl of second homes in the last twenty years has done much more harm and benefitted far fewer people.

See also:

  • Destruction at all co(a)st 2008 Report on the situation of the Spanish coast (Greenpeace) “The Builders and Developers Federation estimates that Spain needs more than 300,000 new dwellings every year. However, during the last four years, this number has almost tripled with 800,000 new dwellings valued between the second half of 2006 and May 2007. Now, the slump in the real estate market has plunged the construction sector into a depression that has affected the entire country.” Excellent review
  • State of the Spanish coast (iberianature 2004)
  • Also in today’s Guardian:  Campaigners warn of threat to one of Spain’s last pristine beaches “Politicians have long promised to bulldoze the Algarrobico hotel, but the 411-room glass and concrete structure still towers over the El Algarrobico beach in Almería, south-east Spain. Now campaigners say the authorities have changed their tune and are opening the way to more building on this stretch of protected Mediterranean coast.

Galician fishing industry

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

I liked this photo report of the fishing industry in Vigo by Ian Berry of Magnum Photos. The above image “ Gulls follow the trawler in the hope of picking up any fish left uncovered. 2008″
All photos here

Tourism in Spain under threat

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Spain is currently the world’s second-biggest tourist destination after France, with the population of 45 million being bolstered every year by as many as 60 million foreign visitors, 80% of whom flock to the coasts. Tourism contributes more than 11 per cent of Spain’s GDP and employs more than two million people. These figures are going to fall in the next few years because of the economic crisis, but the sector faces a much greater long-term threat, that of climate change. According to the Fundación Empresa y Clima “the changes are going to be far more drastic than those caused by the current economic crisis”. Impact are likely to include higher temperatures, loss of beaches due to sea level rise, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, the reduction of water resources and the increase in forest fires. El Mundo

Meanwhile, the EU has delivered a stinging criticism of Spain’s property laws, allowing urban sprawl and corruption, voting overwhelmingly to freeze hundreds of millions of euros in Spain’s EU funding if the Spanish government does not tackle what the parliament condemned as “extensive urbanisation” practices. BBC

And again, the long-term prospects for the traditional Spanish tourist industry may not be rosy. Over-development of the country’s coasts has seen them lose their much of their appeal for tourists. Some statistics:

  • In the six years between 2000 and 2006, urban development within the first two kilometers of the coast of Huelva increased by 48.1 percent.
  • Urban sprawl in Valencia increased by 53.1 percent. In just six years, concrete was blighting one out of every 10 previously untouched kilometers of Valencia’s coastline.
  • In Alicante and in the Andalusian province of Málaga, more than half of the first two kilometers of coast are under concrete. In Barcelona, just 32 percent of the coastline remains undeveloped. Across Spain, coastal urban sprawl has increased by 22 percent in just six years.

La Comunidad Valenciana construyó un 10% de su costa en sólo seis años (EL País)

Giant waves predicted for Spanish Atlantic

Friday, February 6th, 2009

The inhabitants of Spain’s Atlantic and Cantabrian coastline will have to get used to more storms and giant waves as a result of global warming. Two waves of 26.13m and 24.64m hit the coast near Santender on January 22nd, the largest every recorded anywhere along the Spanish coastline Both form part of general tendency detected of ever greater waves.

Monk seal spotted off coast of Mallorca

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Remarkable news. A diver from Palma claims to have seen (and taken photo above) a possible monk seal (foca monje – Monachus monachus) in the marine reserve of Isla del Toro. The monk seal is considered to be extinct is the Balearic Islands (where it was known popularly as the vell marí – old man of the sea) since the late 1950s, and is among the ten most endangered mammals in the world, with colonies divided between Mauritania and the Eastern Mediterranean, the former being far the stronger. If true, I imagine we are talking about an animal in dispersion or just plain lost. The Balearic government periodically considers the possibility of attempting to reintroduce the animal. Whether it would fare well in an area of sea so popular with pleasure craft is another question. See more in El País

Update: this version of the story from Libertad Balear is much better researched.

There is also a half plan to reintroduce the animal along the Costa Brava (La foca monje volverá a Cadaqués – El País)

A small group of monk seals survived in Cabo de Gata, Almeria until the 1960s.

See also

Asturian coast still wild

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

In its excellent series on the state of the Spanish coast today El País looks at the coast of Asturias, which thanks to protection, has so far, on the whole, escaped the ravages of tourist development. But 60,000 new homes are planned. Since 1883 it has been illegal to build within 500m of the coastline. El Pais. More on Asturias here

san lorenzo beach

Madness in La Manga

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

A series of excellent posts by Jill et al on the forum with some amazing photos of coastal erosion in La Manga where they are building houses right on the beach. She notes “Why does anybody buy into these projects? It seems to me that it is 50 percent grab-it-while-you-can-(and-hope-to-leave-the-next-fellow-holding-the-hot-potato) and 50 percent mass credulity.” (Forum)

Five years today since the Prestige disaster

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Today, the 13th November, is five years since the Prestige disaster. El Pais reminds us that nobody has yet been tried for this.

prestige clean-up

Some key facts

  • The spill is the largest environmental disaster in Spain’s history.
  • 64,000 tons of fuel oil were spilled in the incident
  • The cost of the clean-up to the Galician coast alone is estimated at €2.5 billion
  • The World Wildlife Fund estimated that 300,000 seabirds died. A study published this month (Nov 2007) shows that hydrocarbons are still present in the seabird chicks (El Mundo)
  • Seafood industry was halted along much of Galicia’s coast
  • WWF warn of the possibility of other “Prestiges” today and notes three oil spills in Spain this year Sierra Nava (Algeciras), Don Pedro (Ibiza) and Samothraki (Gibraltar) WWF

See also “The largest environmental disaster in Spanish history began during a fierce storm off Galicia’s Coast of Death, la Costa da Morte, on 13th November 2002, as the Prestige oil tanker was sailing from Latvia to Gibraltar, to its ultimate destination of Singapore.” (Typically Spanish) + More on the Prestige oil spill (wikipedia)