The Costas Authority returns to haunt Muro’s Capellans. | MDB files


In October 2009, the residents of Ses Casetes des Capellans staged a protest. It was against the application of the 1988 Coasts Law by the Costas Authority, the body which comes under the national government but has a delegation in the Balearics.

This authority has most recently been in the news because of the business about the playgrounds on the beaches in Puerto Pollensa. Local delegation or not, it can sometimes appear to be guided by a remoteness in Madrid.

Capellans was threatened with being demolished into non-existence. This was because the Costas had determined that what are mostly cottages (146 in all) occupied public maritime domain. The protest attracted much publicity.

Opinion was solidly on the side of the residents. Even environmentalist groups, prone to getting involved in such matters, kept quiet. They were wise not to pronounce in favour of the Costas. With opinion so strong, the matter was, as they say here, “parked”. Capellans was no longer threatened.

However, the Costas have returned. This time, the authority doesn’t have in mind the whole of this small coastal settlement, only 22 of the cottages and three bars. It has drawn up a revised boundary of the public maritime domain. The fear of demolition has thus been revived.

The land was acquired by Muro town hall in 1929. The settlement of cottages grew, and this was growth that occurred many years before there ever was a Coasts Law. These historical facts are part of the defence this time round, and defence there most certainly is.

The town hall has taken on a legal firm, the residents have their own firm, and the Council of Mallorca is advising the town hall, which owns the land and the cottages. The residents have concessions to use them as summerhouses.

Some one hundred people attended a meeting at Muro Theatre earlier this week. Those attending, plus others, will be sending their submissions opposing the Costas’ plan. The period for doing so has been extended to the end of this month.

The arguments in the submissions include the fact that the settlement predated the Coasts Law and that, in 1989, there was an original drawing of the boundary by the Costas which excluded Capellans from the public maritime domain.

The uniqueness and the character of Capellans also form part of the argument. It’s true; there isn’t anywhere else in Mallorca quite like it. A further point, and a more recent development, is that the regional environment ministry’s plan for management of natural resources as it applies to the Albufera Nature Park has been approved.

Capellans is at the far end of the forest and dunes that are included in the park. The ministry took the view that Capellans should be excluded from the park’s protection zone precisely because it has much history and is what it is - a place for summerhouses used by the ordinary people of Muro.

If the ministry can decide not to bring it within the sphere of “protection”, then why can’t the Costas do likewise? In fact, why can’t the Costas just let the place be?

* Some 1,000 submissions have been made.