By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE Balearic government is set to freeze at least seven developments in Majorca and Ibiza today.
The controversial move, which will anger the construction industry but please environmentalists and central government, will come into force immediately as the Balearics responds quickly to Madrid's call for coastal regions of Spain to start taking action to protect and preserve the coastline from further over development and mass tourism.

Five of the developments earmarked to be halted today are in sites of “extreme natural importance” in Ibiza while the two in Majorca are understood to be on coastal wetlands near Palma and in a secluded bay. In accordance with the new moratorium, vast areas of the Balearics will be declared protected land and therefore exempt from development in the future.

It is understood that, in the event of the frozen projects having already been started, compensation is going to be negotiated with landowners and developers but it is going to do little to the spirits of the construction industry which is calling for government assistance as it confronts a downturn in activity and business.

However, this is just the first step the Balearic government is likely to take as its complies with central government's white paper on coastal protection in Spain. Only last week, Madrid served Palma with a report on the state of the Balearic coastline which highlighted a number of black spots where the local government has been ordered to take urgent action. What is more, hundreds of illegally built coastal properties, in particular those which went up before the coastal protection laws were introduced in the 80's, could be demolished, Beaches are considered public property and building is banned within 100 metres of the coast.
Yesterday, the Council of Ibiza's development chief, Miguel Ramon, warned that the local authority on the island may even take the new moratorium a step further and expand the protected areas on the island.

Here in Majorca, there are a total of 16 coastal blackspots, including 65 kilometers of unstable cliffs, some of which have already been built on.
In Arta, for example, the report reveals that 45 percent of unstable cliffs in the area have been developed.
In the event of demolition, local authorities will negotiate compensation with the proprietors but the compensation bill in some municipalities could run into ten of millions and the Balearic Minister for the Environment, Miguel Angel Grimalt maintains that central government should make funds available to help the authorities cover the costs of tearing illegal properties down.

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