By Humphrey Carter

INTERNATIONAL environmental group Greenpeace has fired a fresh broadside in an attempt to scupper Calvia Council's plans to sink an obsolete Spanish navy frigate off the coast to create an artificial reef, once and for all.

Greenpeace yesterday submitted results of an environmental impact study to the Ministry for the Environment in Madrid. A spokesperson for the organisation explained that one of the principal conclusions is that sinking 4'000 tonnes of junk off the Malgrats Isles will not help preserve and protect the marine environment.

Calvia Council solicited the services of one of the world's leading artificial reef creators, a Canadian company which has sunk ships for this purpose in various parts of the world with great success. However, the environmental group maintains that, in order to make a final decision, the Ministry for the Environment, in accordance with the marine protection laws, has to consider the protection and preservation of a marine and terrestrial public area and not the alleged future benefits.

Apart from helping to revive struggling marine life in the area and, by expanding the existing marine reserve, increase protection of the area, Calvia Council maintains that the benefits for tourism would be significant.

Having studied a similar project off the South coast of England, Calvia believes that the reef would help create a prosperous and all-year-round diving industry.

The project also includes plans to construct an educational centre near the site. However, apart from the potential damage the environmentalists claim the sunken frigate would cause, considerable amounts of explosives, for example, are used in the process of sinking such vessels; Greenpeace claims that the project also contradicts Calvia's commitment to protecting and conserving the environment and reducing the damage caused by waste and contamination.

Maria Jose Caballero, head of the NGO Coastal Campiagn said yesterday that the Environment Ministry has yet to reach a final decision about the project as it has not received sufficient arguments to deny permission.

Opponents hope that Greenpeace's report will suffice.


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