THE Balearic Ports Authority confirmed yesterday that 36 million euros is to be spent on extending the Port of Palma to accommodate large cruise liners, a project which includes the construction of a 12'600 square metre breakwater.

The Ports Authority which reports to the regional ministry for the Environment, said the extension programme is the most ambitious of its kind of the present Balearic government.

Specifically, the works will involve extending the already-existing jetties by around 50 metres and the construction of two docking areas, each some 380 metres in length and 30 metres wide. Depth of water at the moorings will reach 12 metres.

The Ports Authority said that the new docking areas will allow stop-offs in the Port of Palma by cruise ships of over 300 metres in length. The government had agreed that the project should go ahead because cruise tourism brings high spending visitors to the Islands. Offering extended facilities means that the increasingly large vessels will now be able to include Palma on their stop-off schedule. Currently, around one million visitors come to the capital every year on cruise ships but that figure is forecast to rise this year.

Environmental protection groups, meanwhile, say that the building works will damage the fragile marine eco-system surrounding the port.
The programme for the port extension, and the money which is to be spent on it, has been published in the Official Bulletin of the European Union.
Works will take 16 months to complete meaning that they will not be ready by the time the term of office of the current Balearic government comes to an end. However, details are yet to be reported in the Official Bulletin for Spain.