After the Partido Popular had won the regional elections last year, I had expected the coast road into Playa de Muro to be rumbling with great Panzer divisions of bulldozers heading to the Son Bosc finca in order to give the finca a good old and overdue golfing up. Oddly enough, there have been no bulldozers. Yet.
The ravishing of the environment is, one suspects, awaiting the master plan to be drawn up by the Madrid politburo and for the green light to be given for a spectacular un-greening of Mallorca. Great plans are due to burst out of PP governmental HQ; those for tourism, coasts and the environment that will, in many respects, be interrelated and that will, in all respects, cause great howls of protest from the environmental lobby. GOB, among the other enviro pressure groups, is going to be gobsmacked.
The filling of the lungs in preparation for the howls is already beginning, thanks to national environment minister Miguel Arias having signalled that environmental policy can only be sustainable if it is economically viable. This is sustainable environment doublespeak which places the economy at the head of the queue. Bye, bye, environment. Bye, bye, coasts. Hello, tourism. Hello, a new construction boom.
When all else fails with the Spanish economy, and it normally does, it is time to get building. A difference this time round is that the government won't be putting much the way of the building sites. The private sector is being called upon to act with fervent patriotism and construct for victory. Just take tourism, for example.
The politburo's tourism national plan is being pieced together. It is one to rejuvenate mature resorts, courtesy of the private sector, and it is one being overseen by Isabel Borrego, tourism secretary-of-state, otherwise known as the tourism secretary-of-state for property development. It really was a master stroke to appoint someone with a property law CV to the tourism ministry.
The tourism national plan, and as ever tourism gets labelled the motor of the economy as there isn't any other motor other than tourism's bedfellow, the construction industry, will not put up obstacles to the private sector. If it is going to construct for victory, the last thing it wants are any messy regulations getting in the way.
It is already happening. In Mallorca, although the regional government has yet to start converting the island into one huge privately funded building site, the procedures are being put in place and previous declarations that there would not be new tourism building being quietly forgotten. The political environmental defenders of the coalition of Mallorcan Socialists, the Greens and Entesa in Calvià is struggling to make its voice heard over that of the noise of the earthmoving machines and diggers in Magalluf, as the marina development of new hotels adds to what the coalition says is already an "over-exploited area".
No one in government is likely to take much notice of what the loony environmental left has to say for itself. At regional governmental level and especially at national governmental level, the various ministries are indistinguishable from each other. Joined-up government it most certainly is, the ministries joined at the hip in driving forward the national plans.
The economy needs a boost. Of course it does. But the question is to what degree national and regional governments will ride roughshod over environmental obligations. It is fair to say that things had probably gone too far in the environmental direction and to the hindrance of economic development, but are the coastal areas about to be subject to a relaxation of controls that might bring with them further damage of coastlines?
The Coasts Law is up for reform. It needs to be reformed, if only because its implementation has been so seemingly arbitrary, lamentable in the way in which its application has caught out victims who had innocently bought into developments, and has been pursued with a zeal that has bordered on fanaticism.
As ever, the argument against further coastal development and against a general un-greening of the environment through construction is that longer-term problems will be created. The governments are, it would appear, only interested in the short term and doing whatever is required to get the economy moving. But in so doing, a further problem can be created. It is exactly the same one that helped to bring Spain to its knees. A new construction boom, if it actually happens, would bring economic relief for a time. But then what? Another bust? And one that has taken the environment along with it?
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