SPAIN, where millions of holidaymakers will flock this summer, is destroying its coastline by overbuilding, environmental group Greenpeace said yesterday. Spain had taken no steps to stop the deterioration of its coastline in recent years and done little to upgrade sanitation infrastructure and water treatment on the coast to keep up with development needs, Greenpeace said. “Although the awareness of these problems has progressed, we note ... solutions have not been applied by practically any institutions, more concerned with short term benefit than the kind of future inherited by coming generations,” the group said in a report, entitled At Any Cost. The Balearic government was singled out for criticism, and was accused of reviving “balearisation,” a term coined to describe the overbuilding which destroyed vast stretches of the Spanish coast line during the initial tourism boom. Its planning policies, the report said, are a step backwards in the protection of the coasts.
Greenpeace said that the Island Territorial Plans encourage construction, even in protected spaces, while the “fever” to build marinas continues.
A spokesman for the Environment Ministry declined to comment.
Spain is the world's number two tourist destination after France, according to the World Tourism Organisation, with the bulk of visitors coming from Britain and Germany. The sector accounts for about one tenth of Spain's economy. Many northern Europeans have bought holiday homes in Spain (see below). Spanish property prices have boomed in the last few years, fuelled partly by cheap lending rates and the introduction of the European single currency, making property look relatively cheap for foreigners. “Local governments get most of their income from taxes and fees associated with building and construction, something which fuels the deterioration of the coastline,” the report said. In the last year, Greenpeace said, Spain had approved 768'000 new houses along its coastline, as well as 58 new golf clubs, adding to 300 that already exist -- and 77 sailing ports. Nearly 45'000 illegal houses were also built along the coast despite evidence of increasing competition in the tourism sector from cheaper destinations, the report said. Spending by foreign tourists grew just 1.3 percent in the first five months of the year, the Industry Ministry said, while the number of foreign visitors grew 5.1 percent.

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