Es Trenc, one of the most protected areas in Mallorca. | Joan Socies

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The Confederation of Balearic Business Associations, developers, builders and now the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation have all presented challenges to the Balearic government's proposed new law for the conservation of spaces of "environmental relevance".

The law aims to give greater protection to natural spaces. One of the points that has created the most controversy is the system of "preventive protection". Under this, when plans are being drawn up for protection, municipal building licences can be suspended or the processing of urban plans can be halted. These plans include those for natural resource management and special protection areas for birds.

The hoteliers are against this on the grounds that it will cause legal uncertainty. "Intending that, in general, a generic suspension of licences can occur or that a duly authorised activity can be paralysed is simply intolerable from the point of view of legality." All the employers' groups agree that the new regulations will generate serious legal uncertainty.

The hoteliers' document lodged with parliament is against the fact that the environment ministry can assume "exclusive" powers to be able to declare and modify natural spaces and that that these decisions must be included in the law. "We consider that this is a backward step in the participation of the parliament, which is the body where sovereignty resides - a backward step in democratic participation."