Samples are being examined. | Gori Vicens

Considerable opposition has been aroused by the plan for restoring the old customs pier in Portocolom. The local pressure group, Salvem Portocolom (Let's Save Portocolom), are against the project, and a human chain of some 700 people recently drew attention to the opposition.

The plan is that of the regional government's ports authority, Ports de les Illes Balears (Ports IB), and the main controversy surrounds the paving and maintaining the traditional appearance of the pier, which is around 200 years old.

Ports IB has decided to change the restoration plan, and in line with this, samples of the paving and of the original work are being examined. An archaeologist, David Javaloyas, a dry-stone expert, Lluc Mir, and a civil engineer are all studying the samples that have been removed. Javaloyas says that "it is about documenting as much as possible the process by which the pier was built". "We are trying to find out about the technique that was used, and we need to have sufficient foundations in order to be able to propose a project that is respectful of heritage."

Lluc Mir, who is president of the Gremi de Margers (the dry-stone workers guild), is surprised by the "high level of work in terms of stone use and construction". "It's spectacular, very strong. It was made conscientiously." He explains that dry-stone technique was not used. There is lime and sand mortar. The stones were "perfectly placed, very tight and with perfect joints". He notes that subsequent renovations were not as good. There are some badly placed stones and joints that were out of alignment. To prevent something similar happening with the planned restoration, it has been proposed that dry-stone workers undertake the work.

The pier has some cracks, Mir observes. "It has suffered and needs maintenance. But given its age, the dock is in very good condition. It was very well done."