BALEARIC environment minister Jaume Font dismissed the European Commission's report which said that five beaches in the Balearics were not fit for bathing, pointing out that it was based on analyses made last year. He added that his department was already working on improving the state of the water at these beaches. As reported in yesterday's Bulletin, three beaches in Pollensa, one in Cala d'Or (Santanyí) and one in Minorca (Cala Padera in Es Castell), were slammed in the report. But Font, speaking at the presentation of the control centre for the Bathing Water Quality Plan which was launched yesterday, said he refused to think that the European Commission had failed the Balearics just because five of its beaches had not passed the quality test. “We have the best beaches in the world,” he proudly proclaimed.
Font said that analyses in the month of October at Pollensa showed that the water there was now fit for bathing.
And yesterday it was announced that the Pollensa beaches of Cala Molins, Cala Barques and Cala Formentor had been awarded Blue Flags (see story next page). Font said that the control centre would co-ordinate the work of the 37 boats and light plane which will keep the coastal waters clean this summer. The plane will fly over the coast to pinpoint the areas where there is most rubbish, and report back to the control centre, which will direct the boats to those areas. The boats, he pointed out, are just one part of a major project to improve the quality of the water at the beaches, which will call for 170 million euros to be spent on sewage treatment plants and underwater outlets. He said that work has already started on enlarging the sewage farm in Pollensa, alleging that the previous team at the ministry had “abandoned” the plant. As to the other two beaches, the sewage treatment plants there are also being expanded. “The Partido Popular has been in power in the islands for less than a year, and we have already started these works,” Font said.
Commenting on the importance of the plan to clean up coastal waters, which is costing his department and the tourism ministry four million euros, he said that the boats had collected 2.1 tons of rubbish at some distance from the coast and 700 kilos nearer shore on their first day. The work of the boats and plane is based on a project drawn up by a team at the Balearic University.
Font said that it could also be applied to the fight against forest fires and other emergency plans.
It cost 300'000 euros, compared to 700'000 euros which a Catalan firm was asking for a similar system.
The control centre is based in the ministry of the environment.