THE Balearics is under inspection by the European Commission which announced yesterday that it is to start probing the dredging and regeneration processes used to repair beaches damaged in Spain by the November 2001 hurricane. A number of complaints have been lodged by the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund, WWF/Adena, in Brussels over the way in which the beaches in the Balearics and Alicante were repaired. Yesterday the WWF confirmed that the European Commission is to launch an investigation and that the Director General for the Spanish Seaboard, part of the Ministry for the Environment, may be found guilty of malpractice and infringing EU environmental directives. Ultimately, if the Spanish authorities are found guilty by the European Commission of breaking EU directive, it could be the former Environment Minister Jaume Matas, the PP Baleares candidate for president that takes the rap. He was in charge when the dredging and beach regeneration in the Balearics was given the green light, despite protests from members of the Balearic government, in particular the local Environment Minister, Margalida Rossello, who expressed concern about the damage the project would do to the marine environment. The beaches worst hit by the November 2001 storms were in the North East of Majorca and sand to rebuild the beaches in Pollensa and Can Picafort was dredged off Banyalbufar. A series of protests were staged by environmentalists, who also tried to halt repair work on Can Picafort beach by chaining themselves to machinery, concerned about the damage being caused. The Seaboard Director General, under the auspices of the Environment Ministry, at the start of 2002, gave orders for regeneration work to be completed as quickly as possible. Even the Minister Matas gave the Balearics a deadline in order to have the beaches repaired before the summer tourist season started.
WWF/Adena claims that the projects were ordered without an environmental impact study being carried out in either the Balearics or along the Alicante coastline. Spokesperson for WWF/Adena, Juan Carlos Del Olmo said yesterday “we're pleased that Brussels is backing us. The complaints show that Spain still has not adopted a sustainable tourism model to control coastal development and protection and the time has come to stop destroying our coastline.”