Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Chainsaw Blues

Following up on my posts about destructive development proposals in Ávila, there has been a bit of good news. It turns out that there is a crime in Spain known as a “delito ecológico” (environmental crime), something which was news to me, and that the developer who destroyed thousands of pine trees in spite of a court order halting his development is to be charged with this offence. At least this means that the proposed development is halted until this issue is resolved, although if they do not find him guilty then he can probably resume the destruction of what should always have been a protected area.

Meanwhile, the recently appointed prosecutor for offences connected with urban development has come up with a very radical proposal, the demolition of illegally built dwellings! This would be a very drastic change from the policy that seems to have existed up to now, where illegal buildings are constructed and sold without any apparent impediment, and then 10 years later someone from the relevant authority comes along and says “you really shouldn’t have done that” – end of story. If things carry on this way we could even reach a stage where construction could be stopped before the building is completed and sold, or they could even make it impossible for a property to be sold without having the required permissions. There are an estimated 100,000 illegal dwellings in the country, probably several thousand of these are in Marbella and other areas on the Mediterranean coast. That should keep the bulldozers busy for a while.


madrid teacher said...

Illegal building is one thing but even legal bulding needs to be curbed. In 6 years I have seen Valencia double in size and daily there are new additions to Alcala. lets just hope there are some good Judges working on the day the Environmental Crime has its day in court.

Graeme said...

Well yes, the outcome of so many legal cases seems to depend more on the choice of judge than anything else.

On legal building, the rise in interest rates is probably slowing things down, but the real problem is having a system of financing local government that promotes the change of use and sale of land for construction.