The environmentalist group Terraferida has called on the regional environment ministry to close golf courses in Majorca that have allegedly been drawing water illegally. The group also insists that not a euro more of public money should be spent on "promoting a private activity that is permanently suspected of serious illegalities".
Terraferida's demands come in light of investigations by environment ministry agents into the use of water at golf courses. The group is criticising the fact that this use has been denounced by environmentalist associations for several years and also by the ministry's agents. So far, it notes, no golf course has been closed and only one - Andratx - has been fined. The environment ministry applied a sanction of 250,000 euros in July last year. In September 2016, an illegal well was discovered at the course. It was said to have been supplying some 7,000 cubic metres of water per day in the high season.
The agents, via their union (the CCOO), have themselves criticised the apparent "passivity" of the government. A union report, prepared by the agents, points to what are considered to be unjustifiable delays in the processing of cases related to golf courses. Specifically named are Son Gual in Palma, Camp de Mar (Andratx), Vall d'Or (Felanitx) and Son Termens (Bunyola).
Terraferida says of Son Gual that there have been suspicions for years. In 2011, the environmentalists GOB formally denounced the use of water to the environment ministry. This complaint, claims Terraferida, never received a response. The CCOO report refers to another complaint, one in 2016, as it was alleged that the golf course was illegally extracting 6,500 cubic metres of water a day.
The group goes on to attack the fact that the International Golf Fair in November 2016 took place at Son Termens at a time when a file had been opened regarding the use of water at the golf course. A total of 860,000 euros of public money was spent on staging and promoting the fair: 560,000 euros came from the tourism ministry and the Council of Majorca, the rest from Turespaña. The private sector, says Terraferida, contributed only 63,000 euros.
The environment ministry agents are said to have uncovered a total of ten illegal wells. The law obliges golf courses to use treated water. Using water from the water network for greens and fairways is prohibited, and by water network this includes extractions straight from aquifers. The decline in the levels of certain aquifers was one reason why the agents started to make inspections.
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