THE Spanish government has sparked fury after giving the thumbs up to a controversial project in Mojacar.
It comes as the General Directorate for Sustainability of the Coast and Sea (DGSCM), an offshoot of the national environment ministry, approved plans for a seafront promenade behind El Cantal beach.
And the rubber stamp will see a 740-metre footpath plus 164 parking spaces, a bicycle path and public seating areas installed at a cost of just over €3 million.
Mayor Rosa Maria Cano’s council has long-supported the scheme, but local business owners claim it will ‘destroy’ the beach bars which line the sandy strip, causing jobs to be axed and losing ‘one of the town’s main charms.’
Opposition political parties agree, while thousands of people from across Spain signed a petition opposing the plan. But the DGSCM report scotches 13 charges against the walkway raised by members of the public earlier this year.
Responding to complaints from business owners regarding “possible damages to economic activity on the seafront,” the study says that “the project does not set out any limitations to businesses,” adding that “based on experience of the many existing seafront promenades, they tend to trigger an upturn in economic activity and therefore an increase in jobs and boost for existing businesses.”
Mojacar Council has argued the same, repeatedly saying that the bars “will hardly be affected” and “will even be improved.”
But the bars themselves say the layout of the promenade “appears to have been designed in bad faith to put an end to the bars,” as expatriate councillor and member of action group Somos Mojacar (We Are Mojacar) Jessica Simpson said in a plenary session.
The presence of the bicycle path has been another sticking point, with critics insisting that it will make the promenade too wide, dangerous for pedestrians and in contravention of Spain’s coastal law.
The DGSCM document rejects all three claims, since the law “does not say that promenades must be exclusively for pedestrians,” and “in this case, the bicycle path is clearly marked and separated from the footpath.”
And a final gripe that the promenade is wider than six metres in places has also been rebuffed, with the rules stating that a promenade must be built at least six metres inland from the interior limit of the shoreline, but “in no way dictates that the width of the footpath has to be limited to six metres.”