Binigarba: the argument that was lost

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In the Binigarba properties, near Ciutadella, there has been a battle of interests, involving influencers, fictions, and environmental aggression against those who have dedicated many hours of attention to the problems. It seems that the case has now been closed and that the area is at last protected.

The case started in 2004 when the project to take sand from the farm was opened for public scrutiny. It was promoted by Valeriano Allès Carnet, SL that already was exploiting the quarries of Son Sintes and Ses Arenetes. The project was presented as restoration but, in reality, it was a new one for sand extraction over 180,000 square metres. Eventually, it was denied.

Two years later, in 2006, the Binigarba Rural Society of Menorca (SRM) presented to the Ciutadella Town Council, a project agreed with Valeriano Allès, to recondition the land to improve agricultural tasks. It was planned to take place over 127,527 square metres and to remove 444,628 cubic metres of sand. The report explained that Valeriano Allès would make the investment for reconditioning the land in exchange for sand useful for building. It was the same as the previous project, which had been denied, but presented in a different way.

In 2007, a licence was granted for reconditioning the land for agricultural improvement. After some months, GOB advised that this was outside the authorised area and that rubble was being dumped from building works. The Director General of Industries sent a suspension order warning that he expressly denied the activity of sand extraction from this place. An urban disciplinary file was opened and the activity was stopped.

At the end of 2012, the developers presented a reformulated project and began works without a license. GOB advised that, once again, they were dumping materials coming from other works and, furthermore, at that time, the area was being incorporated into the network of protected nature spaces, Red Natura 2000.

It was the time when Ciutadella had left the Island Consortium of Urban Discipline. The Town Council allowed the comings and goings of lorries for two months until GOB put on pressure for the result of the disciplinary file that caused a new suspension of works because they were not licensed.

There were more attempts and the developers presented a project to legalise the work already done but continued moving the earth. They were required to have an environment evaluation, which took a long time to submit.

In 2018, the Environment Commission accepts the environment evaluation favourably with a series of conditions. One of them was that it was not permissible to dump extraneous materials on the area. Another one was that Minas, the mining authorities, had to give authorization for making use of sand that the developers wanted to extract.

The developers filed an appeal against the agreement with the environment department. The appeal was dismissed. They then presented a new project to the Town Hall, that did not comply with the environmental conditions laid down and it was rejected by the municipal body.

Finally, the necessary time passed and in the autumn of 2022, the licence petition was denied and an order to return the area to its original state within a two months. After that time, enforcement fines would be imposed if complete restoration had not been effected.

It seems, therefore, finally rationality has been imposed after 19 years of repeated attempts and that the area, which has formal protection, will become so in practice.

Furthermore, the developers, who have repeatedly failed to comply with the authorised conditions have to reinstate the area. Among the impacts caused, there has been significant dismantling, dumping of building materials from elsewhere, and the breaking up of nearly a kilometre of dry stone walling. (See photographs)

You can watch here the video commemorating 45 years of GOB in Menorca.

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