Imagine then the huge anxiety that arose when the Consell Insular, the Island’s Government, passed a motion in March this year requesting a series of actions to modify the PTI (Island Territorial Plan). The PTI provides legal protection against development of protected areas and the new modifications would mean that the basis on which planning permissions are granted is compromised. The authorities say that the plan is not intended to take away protection but to ‘adapt’ rural land to help stimulate the economy to the benefit of life in Menorca. A total of 14,258 hectares currently declared of national territorial and countryside interest and representing over 20% of Menorca’s countryside, would be affected. This includes the land that lies behind Macarella, Algendar, Binigaus, Llucalari, Alcalfar, Cala Tirant and the Albufera des Grau, all of which is of outstanding natural beauty and symbolic of Menorca and would now be left without protection.
In protest, in an effort to safeguard the future of Menorca’s heritage, a petition has been drawn up by GOB, Menorca’s conservation and environmental organisation, and presented to the Consell Insular. It calls for the government to reconsider its position and not to pursue the destruction of the countryside in protected areas of high natural importance in the name of economic regeneration. The petition also points out that the existing PTI, without modifications, already allows planning permission for 30% more building in certain areas and existing urbanisations, so why not consider these areas which would improve the economic situation but without destroying the island. It urges that the conservation and use of the island’s natural resources should be one of the principal activities to be addressed in this current crisis and that both citizens and the Consell Insular should work together towards this rather than on initiatives that would cause social division.
What must also be considered is that although any building work might not happen immediately, once planning permissions have been granted by the Consell, they can be used or resold at a later date and hefty compensation would have to be paid if these permissions were to be revoked. Protestors have stressed that they don’t want any more empty concrete buildings for most of the year or any more ‘All Inclusive’ hotels that bring no money to the island, not to mention the pressure they put on valuable water resources, and all to attract more tourism that has no real interest in the island or what it stands for. It would be a travesty if Menorca were to loose it’s revered UNESCO title to this avail.
For further information about GOB (Grup Balear D’ornitologia i Defensa de la Naturalesa) and the petition mentioned, visit: www.gobmenorca.com.