STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE Balearic government gave its approval yesterday for a moratorium on building development in specific areas of the Islands yesterday, including the natural wetlands of Ses Fontanelles in Palma, and Ses Feixes on Ibiza.

The precautionary measure will not, however, interfere with plans to upgrade the Playa de Palma tourist installations or general town planning modifications on Ibiza. It was made clear though that both these major projects should in no way interfere with the maintenance of the natural state of the wetlands on either island.

Regional minister for Transport and Territory Control, Gabriel Vicens, said yesterday that the Environment ministry had given the go ahead for emergency measures to be taken to conserve unspoiled areas of the Island. To comply with the new law, special dispensation was necessary from the ministry to permit the building of the new Son Espases hospital alongside the site of the Real Monastery which currently enjoys special heritage status. The new Socialist government of Francesc Antich recently endured its first crisis after having to make a U-turn on the decision of where to locate the new hospital - the Socialists had fought their May 2007 election campaign on the premise they would “never” build on the site of the Real Monastery.

Vicens said that the key aim of the new policy is to “set the seal” on sustainability in the Islands and to stop “unbridled development.” The latter, he said, had been actively promoted by the opposition Partido Popular (PP), during their term of office in the Islands from 2003-2007. The minister said that the new measures, details of which have been published in the Official Bulletin of the Balearic Islands, take immediate effect. Proceedings to obtain licenses to build have been put on hold as have licenses for the construction of homes in areas of special natural interest in Ibiza and Formentera.

Vicens stated that the new laws will remain in place until the present government has had a chance to evaluate the quality and dimensions of territory under threat and where applicable, to ensure that historical and cultural elements of as yet uncharted land is set on record. The moratorium also applies to golf courses with development of tourist or residential property alongside the courses being banned.

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