The environment ministry is obliged to respond to the European Commission's demand that it explains the Balearic government's management of exclusion zones in the Tramuntana Mountains - specifically Cala Castell and the Castell del Rei on the Ternelles finca in Pollensa.
The demand from the president for petitions, Cecilia Wikström, followed the complaint lodged with Brussels by the Mediterranean Wildlife Foundation. It drew attention to amendment of the Balearic law on environmental impact by which there would be reduced protection of these zones, which are sensitive because they are black vulture breeding areas. This reduced protection would allow hikers to cross exclusion zones; cross but no more.
The response from the environment ministry includes a warning about "personal interests". The ministry is suggesting that the exclusion zones are being used by the March family, owners of Ternelles, as shields to limit access, while it is also drawing attention to the links between the owners and the foundation.
Specific mention is made of the foundation having among its "patrons" the administrator of the property, which belongs to "a family with considerable financial power that has for decades been engaged in litigation with public authorities in Majorca with regard to the use of the way (the one to Cala Castell), the right of passage to which has been recognised by the Supreme Court". The court accepted the principle of right of access to the coast.
The ministry explains that public access, which doesn't include the exclusion zones, is subject to authorisation by the municipal authority (Pollensa town hall) and is limited to twenty people per day. The owners want to "impose" a guide with each group of hikers. The foundation has of course started to undertake these guided walks and is in open conflict with the town hall as a result.
As far as the government is concerned, the legislative change represents no threat to the black vulture population. It is pointed out that from the way to Cala Castell it is not possible to see let alone interfere with any black vulture nest. The land, including cliffs, simply makes it impossible for anyone to get close to the vultures' areas.
It is further stressed that the vulture population has increased, something that Pollensa's mayor has also referred to, and that last year the town hall gave authorisations to over 5,000 walkers, around a tenth of them schoolchildren.
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