Work is to start immediately on constructing a promenade from Portixol to Arenal. The Ministry for the Environment in Madrid yesterday approved a 13.2 million euro investment in the project which once completed will link Palma to Arenal. The Secretary of State for Coasts, Pascual Fernández, visited Palma yesterday to inspect the project for himself and said that the first phase in Can Pastilla will commence immediately. The new seven-kilometre stretch of promenade will start from where Palma's existing promenade and bicycle runs out in El Molinar and run all the way to Arenal. The promenade will also include cycle lanes and Pascual Fernández said the project should be completed by 2004, although sections will be opened in the meantime as they are finished. The Secretary of State also said that every effort will be made to make sure that the project is carried out as quickly as possible while causing the minimum disruption to tourists along the Playa de Palma. The project will also include a number of environmental projects, such as the recuperation of the dunes at Es Carnatge and the preservation of existing flora along the route. The project has been criticised by some residents in El Molinar, many concerned about the environmental impact of the project, but yesterday Fernández made his visit to ease local concern. For the most part, the project and its possible implications have been studied by the public and local residents with an absolute majority approving the scheme, the Secretary of State said. The project also falls nicely in to Palma's city council's ambitious sea-front renovation scheme, with central government covering the bulk of the costs of a new promenade.