Building of 15,000 homes by Costa Brava halted
Projects stopped as government launches more restrictive environmental regulation
A number of environmental organizations fighting for several years in the Costa Brava area have won a big victory: the building of 15,000 homes along the world-famous coast in northern Catalonia has been halted by the government.
A new urban plan released on Monday ruled out the construction of controversial apartments in several sites, including Aiguafreda (in Begur), Cala Morisca (Tossa de Mar) and Cap Ras (Llançà).
Others, such as Sa Guarda (Cadaqués) or Aigua Xelida (Palafrugell) will have to adapt to new government plans if they want to move forward.
The new project reconsiders 202 sites, with 91 being banned and 50 more with the obligation of a reformulation.
The new regulation will be "more restrictive" when it comes to environment and integration in the landscape.
Catalonia's secretary of urban habitat and territory, Agustí Serra, said the government's aim was to be "ambitious" within the legal framework to preserve the coast's landscape and the environment reducing the effects of climate change.
After the new government plans have been approved, challenges to the decision can be made in the near future, with the cabinet seeking to give a final go-ahead to the regulation in June 2020.
Both sides react negatively to new regulation
Yet, it appears the new regulation has not pleased either the property developers or the environmentalists, with the former calling the plan "premature," and the latter calling on the government to show "more courage."
"The government says that this review was done rigorously but in the time it has taken that's not possible," said the head of Girona's property developers' association, Josep Maria Coll, who added that the authorities had not taken economic aspects into account.
Coll said that the new plan would particularly affect developers whose projects are near completion and who now find that "the door has been shut in their faces," because many of them still lacked some of the permits required to finish the buildings.
The SOS Costa Brava pressure group said it will challenge the coastal protection plan, arguing that it does not go far enough, and the group's lawyer, Eduard de Ribot, called on the government to block the construction of another 15,000 planned homes.
"The Costa Brava's capacity is exhausted, we cannot continue to urbanize," said De Ribot, who added that the government had missed an opportunity to make "a real change of direction" in its urban development policy.