Consultation period begins for new Coastal Law draft regulations

Ley de Costas - an arbitrary boundary?

Ley de Costas – an arbitrary boundary?

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (Magrama) has opened up a period of public consultation on detailed regulations required by the latest version of Spain’s Coastal Law, passed last May.

Spain’s controversial Ley de Costas, or Coastal Law, originally introduced in 1988, nationalised the entire coastline with the aim of protecting it for the public good. Reforms were introduced last year, amongst other things making it easier to refurbish homes in areas affected by the law.

A cursory glance at the Spanish coast today confirms the Ley de Costas has been a dismal failure. Huge swathes of the coast have been over-developed, and the law has been selectively enforced.

Whilst failing to protect the coastline from over development, the law also confiscated private property without compensation applying arbitrary criteria, and put in train a massive drama for tens of thousands of families with properties menaced by the law.

Owners of property on the wrong side of the boundary between private and public land were given 30 year concessions, after which their homes were to be demolished. The reformed law extends those concessions to 75 years, avoiding the spectre of mass demolitions starting in 2018 (never practical, anyway). Around 140,000 homes near the coast in Spain are threatened by the Ley de Costas.

The draft regulations for the reformed law introduce new fines of up to 1.2 million Euros for private individuals, and 12,000 Euros for town halls who fail to comply with the Ley de Costas.

The proposed regulations also introduce a distinction between urban beaches and natural beaches, with greater restrictions on what can be built close to natural beaches.

The draft regulations include the usual guff about protecting the environment, improving transparency, and better rights for stakeholders, but the reformed Ley de Costas will do no better job of protecting the environment whilst allowing faceless bureaucrats to confiscate private property without consultation or oversight.

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