Environmentalists condemn “unsustainable development of the Spanish coast”

Though plain for all to see, the Spanish environmental group ‘Ecologists in Action’ this week pointed out the terrible mess that Spain has made of much of its beautiful coastline by sacrificing it to senseless urban development. The finger of blame for Spain’s environmental tragedy is also pointed at short-term thinking and over-exploitation by the tourism and fishing industries.

In a new report, Ecologists in Action lambast the “unsustainable development” of the Spanish coast over the last decade, when environmental sustainability was sacrificed to growth in construction, tourism and fishing industries. The environmental damage is such that it could start to threaten the viability of those industries.

Every year, the environmental group awards ‘black flags’ to coastal areas suffering serious environmental damage. “These prizes go to irreversible cases of permanent destruction, or to places where unsustainable projects have been approved,” explained Jorge Sáez, spokesman for the group. This year, the group has awarded 38 more ‘black flags’ than 2007.

The Spanish Mediterranean coast is the worst affected by environmental damage, though the coast of Cantabria is now also under pressure from mass tourism, warns the report.

To reverse the trend towards an environmental wasteland on the Spanish coast, Ecologists in Action call for policies to encourage tourism on a smaller scale, sustainable fishing and agriculture, and less building.

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About Mark Stücklin

Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based property market analyst and consultant, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008). He can be reached by email on ms@spanishpropertyinsight.com.