The beach protest that supposedly wasn't

Well, was it a protest or wasn't it? Some 300 people descended on Caló des Moro on Sunday morning, the second action against beach overcrowding to have been organised by Mallorca Platja Tour. A "festive" day was promised, replete with ball de bot folk dance. Volunteers explained the reasons for the day to tourists, a big assumption of course having been that others going to the beach weren't in fact residents.

There was some inevitably idiotic reporting in the UK press. One headline suggested that cops had stopped Brit tourists going on to the beach. No one could necessarily vouch for the fact that there were any Brit tourists, though there may well have been. But the story of the day on the beach (only a morning, scheduled for 8am to 1pm) did indeed become one about the actions of the Guardia Civil and Santanyi Police.

What happened, so it was suggested, was that a few people started shouting "tourists go home". This was shortly before noon and so roughly four hours after things all began. The Guardia gave an order for banners to be put away and asked a number of people for their ID. The explanation was that the Guardia had interpreted the event to have been a protest. There was no prior permission for a protest; this was why ID was asked for and why the whole thing came to an end approximately half an hour before it was programmed to have finished.

One particularly odd report carried a complaint about identity being requested when tourists were being allowed through and not asked for any. Ridiculous. Unless there were genuine concerns because of over-capacity (a distinct possibility at a small beach like Caló des Moro), no one would have been prevented from accessing the beach, while there was zero reason for "tourists" to be asked for ID. Why on Earth would they have been?

The Spanish government's delegate in the Balearics, Alfonso Rodríguez, later explained that permission should have been sought. He backed the Guardia and so did President Prohens. For Rodríguez it was an awkward situation. The former PSOE mayor of Calvia, he was to find himself at odds with party colleagues who believed that the Guardia had got it wrong. But he was doing his job. And so were the Guardia. Was it a protest? Of course it was, and it was in a public space for which permission was necessary.

Occupying more space or less?

Beach overcrowding complaints have to be considered as the context for residents' criticisms of the provision of beach services in Palmanova. While Calvia was a tad late in organising their sunloungers, etc., it has since become evident that Palmanova has acquired more features than previously, e.g. a beach bar that never used to exist and Balinese beds.

Residents maintain that more beach is being occupied by the services than previously. The town hall begs to differ. Quite the opposite, the space has been reduced - and at all Calvia beaches, to boot.

No one seems to dispute that bar/restaurant terraces in Palma have suddenly occupied more public space, though an estimate of up to 40% from the PSOE opposition at the town hall certainly is disputed. The president of the CAEB Restaurants Association, Alfonso Robledo, reckons that "one or two more tables are not going to disturb people".

Robledo notes that under the previous regime at the town hall (a coalition of the left), "there was an abusive and very aggressive reduction in space". The current regime (of the right) is addressing this but apparently failed to inform residents of the increased spaces. The president of the Palma federation of residents associations, Maribel Alcázar, says that they only found out about it in the press. An urgent meeting with the mayor has been requested.

A now less than social club

If terraces can be said to contribute to the general sense of saturation, one terrace (plus building and more) is disappearing. This is the British-run Social Club on Palma's Paseo Marítimo. It has had to go as part of the work to redevelop the Paseo. The concession for the club was until 2027, so the Balearic Ports Authority, whose land this is, had to end the contract early. There was no agreement, which led to the Spanish transport ministry (ultimately responsible for state ports and their land) ordering a forced expropriation. The club closed at the end of April and is now being demolished.

Lower emission in 2025; much lower by 2030

Saturation of roads in the centre of Palma, one imagines, will be greatly reduced when the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is fully implemented. This won't be until 2030, when only vehicles with the necessary environmental badges will be permitted to enter the zone, the perimeter of which is formed by the Avenidas. The LEZ is due to come into effect from the first of January, 2025. The first phase will last until 2027. During this two-year period the ban will apply to petrol vehicles registered before 2001 and to diesel vehicles before 2006. By 2030, only vehicles with an ECO or 0 environmental badge (sticker) will be allowed to enter the zone. (Some exceptions will apply.)

There will be sixteen cameras at access points to monitor vehicles and their stickers. So, from January 1 a sticker will be needed in order to drive into the centre. There will be different ways of obtaining stickers - one will be from post offices - and full information is available on the DGT traffic directorate's website:

The park of noise

The Parc de ses Estacions is just outside the LEZ. But the concern there isn't about emissions; it is about drugs, behaviour and noise. For some time now, the Parc de ses Estacions has been something of a magnet for young people bent on causing trouble, painting graffiti and pushing drugs. Shanties have appeared on occasion. The local residents have had to put up with all this, but their patience is now finally at an end because of music events that go on into the small hours of the morning.

Maria Antònia Company of the local residents association says: "People are upset, the noise is continuous and daily." Upset is putting it mildly. How is it that events of this type can be staged outdoors in residential areas, whether these are in Palma or elsewhere? The authorities need to get a grip and mean it when they waffle on about ensuring residents' well-being.

New police plan for Son Banya control

The odd shanty in the park is of course nothing like what's to be found in Son Banya, where shanties have a degree of permanence because they have been created with building materials. The residents of Son Banya, gypsy clans, have been challenging the authorities. "For every shanty they pull down, we will build two or three more."

If this is directed at Palma town hall, the installation of forms of fortification are more aimed at the police. The clans of what is commonly known as Mallorca's drugs supermarket want to do everything they can to hamper the police, new fortification having appeared; the last lot was dismantled.

Palma Police are looking to go on the offensive and are planning round-the-clock control - all vehicles entering and leaving Son Banya will be searched.

The ongoing search for new homes

There has been reaction to Mayor Jaime Martínez's announcement last week that 13,000 new homes will be built in Palma and that "a percentage" will be at a limited and social price. The president of the Proinba developers association, Luis Martín, clarified that half of the 13,000 will be VPO or limited price homes, to which Neus Truyol of Més, formerly housing councillor, responded by saying that "they will surely prioritise luxury homes".

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The 13,000 homes, it became clear, would be over a twenty-year period, and their construction will require the new water-treatment plant planned for the city. Martín added that the building of new homes will be seen from mid-2026. The plant isn't scheduled to be built until 2027.

In Palma, as elsewhere in Mallorca, there are numerous examples of buildings which, for whatever reason, were never completed. These 'skeleton' buildings now invariably don't have municipal licences because they have expired. The government therefore has yet another idea for creating affordable housing - the skeleton buildings. This would clearly be a good initiative, but it would require a re-processing and the issuing of new licences.

Calvia says no to Magalluf jet ski circuit

Calvia town hall has rejected the plan for a jet ski circuit in Magalluf and Cala Vinyes. An “unfavourable report” has been sent to the Balearic government’s ministry for the sea, and it is expected that the ministry will rubber stamp this. The controversial project was harshly criticised by the opposition PSOE at the last council meeting, while the environmentalists GOB attacked the plan because of its environmental and acoustic impact.

Residents in the area launched a petition against the circuit, which envisaged covering an area of 178,000 square metres of sea. Calvia’s tourism councillor, Elisa Monserrat, says: “Turning the beaches of Calvia into a jet ski circuit does not fit in at all with the model of sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism that we want for our municipality. “We have 15 Q flags for Quality and we are committed to responsible, quiet leisure, attractive to families and young couples.

Amnesty for illegal buildings to come into effect

On Tuesday, the Council of Mallorca ratified the Balearic government’s amnesty for buildings on so-called rustic land that are currently deemed to be illegal. Procedures being as they are, the Council’s approval is expected to published in the Official Bulletin by Saturday. Once it is, the amnesty will come into effect and owners will be able to start the process of legalising the properties.

It is estimated that there are around 30,000 homes on this type of land that have never been legalised; many were built decades ago. When the Partido Popular were last in power, a law was passed which enabled legalisation in exchange for a penalty payment based on the value of the works. That law was amended after there was a change of government (the PSOE-led coalition) in 2015. The legalisation process was blocked.

These properties are in a state of legal limbo. The PP’s law did lead to some being demolished, but there are plenty to which the statute of limitations applies. However, as they don’t appear on municipal registers as legal constructions, there cannot be applications for permissions to undertake renovation or additional work.

The government and now the Council have looked to end this limbo by issuing an amnesty. Opposition parties have said that they will consider lodging an appeal against the amnesty with the Constitutional Court in Madrid. There has also been an opposition concern that legalised properties could end up becoming holiday rentals. The government has said that this will not be allowed.

Airport flooding and flight chaos blamed on construction work

Spain’s airports authority Aena has said that the flooding at Palma Airport on June 11 as a result of the rain was due to the fact that some areas of the terminal were under construction and that the drainage system had not been completed. It has given assurances that measures have been taken to ensure that this does not happen again.

The director of the airport, Tomás Melgar, met the Balearic government’s director of transport, Lorena del Valle, on Wednesday to analyse the effects of the storm that caused the airport to temporarily paralyse activity and activate its emergency plan for flooding.

During the meeting, Aena stated that it has adopted measures to ensure that weather conditions do not affect the interior of the airport building. In some areas under construction, the roof drainage systems had not been completed. This was why the water entered the terminal. As for the flooding areas outside the terminal, Aena said that it is working together with the directorate for water resources to analyse improvements to the drainage system around the airport.

Del Valle welcomed the action being taken and highlighted the importance of infrastructures such as the airports for the connectivity of residents and visitors. The airport was closed after it was hit by a storm that deposited over 50 litres per square metre of rain and caused extensive flooding.