Since 1990, there has been a public right of way in the Ternelles finca in Pollensa to Cala Castell and the Castell del Rei. And ever since, there has been the constant involvement of the courts.
The Ternelles saga has essentially been driven by two separate issues but ones which have overlapped. On the one hand, there is the fact that Ternelles is owned by the March banking family. This in itself, plus alteration to town hall permission to facilitate limited and guided walks, has been a source of grief. On the other hand, there has been the general principle of access to the coast, a privilege which - in theory - all Spaniards enjoy.
The Supreme Court in Madrid finally ruled in favour of access to the coast, but in doing so, it left it up to regional courts to determine the terms. The High Court in the Balearics therefore stepped in and ruled that, as there are two exclusion zones on the finca - Cala Castell and Castell del Rei - it made no sense to maintain public access to the coast. Following this line of argument, Pollensa town hall, which has consistently made the case for it to be allowed to authorise walks, was told that it had to remove public easement from its general urban plan.
It was argued that there was to be an environment ministry amendment to the PORN plan of management of natural resources as it applied to the finca. The court wasn’t swayed, as the plan at the time of the ruling specifically identified the exclusion zones. As well as telling the town hall that it had to remove the easement, the court warned that if this wasn’t done within a certain period of time, fines would rain down on the mayor and other councillors.
At Thursday’s council meeting, there was reluctant approval to eliminate the easement from the general urban plan. While opposition parties were not in full agreement with this, there has nevertheless been unanimous opinion that councillors and the mayor should not become liable for fines. There has also been the unanimous view that the regional environment ministry has been dragging its heels in amending PORN and formally permitting access to the exclusion zones.
Had the ministry done this by now, the town hall would not have had to eliminate the easement as there would have been compliance with the High Court’s ruling. Mayor Tomeu Cifre says that the town hall will recover the easement once the ministry finally gets round to the modification of PORN. This will be the hope, but given the decades of argument surrounding Ternelles, who can be certain of this?