ECOLOGISTS in Action has handed their unwanted black flags to 48 beaches across the Spanish coast.
The environmental group, which exposes a number of beaches in the country suffering from pollution and poor management every year, defines the issue as a ‘chronic cancer.’
“We only choose 48 to not overwhelm the press and the people but there are hundreds of natural spaces that are being destroyed,” Cristobal Lopez, Ecologists in Action spokesman and Coordinator of the ‘Black Flags report’ told the Olive Press.
Lopez believes the Spanish coast has ‘several serious problems’ that are mainly caused by mass tourism and pollution generated by companies.
“Spain doubles its population during the holiday period and consequently, there is an uncontrolled urban development that leads to the destruction of the littoral. This aberration means that what once were natural areas become a set of hotels and summer homes”.
He added: “Water sanitation and filtering treatment services collapse because of the overpopulation and sewage flows directly into the sea.”
“And many companies also dump their waste, including chemicals, in the sea, but the fines they face are ridiculously low and there are many times they are not even enforced to pay them.”
Lopez identifies Andalucia, which has received 10 black flags, as one of the most environmentally destroyed regions in Spain.
He highlights the wrongdoing in the Costa del Sol, as Malaga coastline as a whole has been given a black flag due to its excessive light pollution generated by industries and mass tourism.
In Cadiz, the ‘awards’ have gone to Tarifa and Vejer for the uncontrolled and illegal construction of housing developments and the discharge of untreated sewage into the sea.
Huelva’s estuary has also been exposed due to a fuel oil spill in February and joins the region’s La Antilla beach, damaged by excessive developments.
The other four ‘recognitions’ in the region are for the Algarrobico and Red Natura beaches in Almeria and La Herradura and Pozuelo-La Rabita in Granada province.
The spokesperson further says the situation is particularly worrying in the Valencian Community.
The Olive Press has previously exposed the environmental crime in Cala Mosca (Alicante), where 2,000 luxury homes will be built in the last virgin stretches of Orihuela coast.
Regarding this, Lopez says local administrations don’t impose enough regulations, which is a long-term problem.
“People buy holiday homes in a natural area because they want to enjoy its landscape. But this unique space is destroyed and polluted by uncontrolled construction and those buyers end up leaving. This creates both environmental and economic problems for those towns”.
Another five coastal areas in the Valencian Community are now black flag holders.
Xavia’s Arenal in Alicante, and the beaches of Forti and Surrach in Castellon have been exposed for its pollution, which is a consequence of the excessive waste generated from mass tourism.
And Valencia as a whole has been given a black flag due to the poor management of the beaches of the province.
Meanwhile, Lopez has described Murcia’s situation as dramatic due to the ‘discharge of chemicals from illegal agriculture and unregulated housing developments into the Mar Menor, which is practically a dead sea now.’
Baleares has got two black flags linked to two serious issues that are taking place in the islands.
One is the uncontrolled proliferation of jet skis, which is causing noise pollution and a risk for swimmers, as several serious accidents have already occurred.
Boat night parties in Ses Salines have also been exposed for creating a number of environmental and health problems.
Ecologists in Action believes Spain has a serious problem and the country’s future is at risk.
“Politicians need to take efficient and urgent measures because they are ruining the country for future generations. Spain has chronic cancer as it has natural areas that are so devastated and polluted that, even with technological advances and investment, it will take many years until they are fully restored,” Lopez concluded.