Letter received by the Alaior Town Council (2): The illegal swimming pools of Torre Vella

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This is the second written document dedicated to the Alaior Town Council, relating to the controversy of access to files that are conflictive:  the Hotels of Son Bou (see the previous written document) and the illegal works of the agro tourism hotel of Torre Vella. Here we can learn more details of this second case.

Torre Vella is the property of some French investors. They initiated the authorization of the agro tourism hotel of Torre Vella when the rules allowed significant urban operations. The developers were already generating certain public discussion because, after taking all the existing farm buildings to convert them for tourist use, they then wanted to construct new buildings for agricultural use and complained how slow the processing of the application was. Some of the new buildings then constructed are bordering the Cami de Cavalls.

The fact is that the declaration of environmental impact was processed by the Balearic Government and the declaration of general interest by the island governing Council (Consell Insular).

During the processing of the environmental impact, it was found, among other things, that a large consumption of water was anticipated. This was resolved by the developers declaring that they were making use of rainwater and wastewater to irrigate the gardens. It would be collected into water tanks and so avoid the extraction of too much water from the aquifer.

Well, once the works were finished, GOB detected some swimming pools had appeared where the tanks for the recycled water should be. These facts were communicated to the Consortium of Urban Discipline and that organisation looked at the records of minutes, and they opened files for the existence of seven undeclared swimming pools, the concreting of more than 2,000 square meters of roads that should be agricultural, various unforeseen concrete slabs and other minor elements.

Because of this notification, inspections were made by the Agencies of the Environment, who verified the opening of some roads that had been expressly prohibited by the Ministry as finding two rubbish dumps of material affecting more than 2000 square meters of a protected area.

With this in the background and in the midst of different disciplinary proceedings, it was known that the promoters had presented to the Alaior Town Council documentation with the intention of legalising it all. GOB asked to consult the documentation. The municipal answer was that it was not possible to see it until the processing had been finalized. Once again, public participation has to wait until the facts are fait acompli before being able to make an opinion.

Sirs, leaders of the government team, do you not see this can end benefitting the violators? Are you not aware that your impediment prejudices those who are trying to comply with the law? Do you not consider that this case is so filled with evidence and for various activities raised by different inspections that now, at least, there should be transparency?

What is the problem for GOB to consult documentation that originated precisely because of our complaint? In addition, do they consider that the use of water, the loss of agricultural land and the existence of rubbish landfills are not environmental issues?

The law, Ley 27/2006, regulates the access to information and public participation in matters of the environment, specifically defines who ought to be considered the interested parties in these matters, and who, therefore, has the right to express an opinion before decisions are made.

Indeed, article 2 of the law says that interested people are non-profit entities that have within their statutes the protection of the environment, that have existed for more than two years and who operate in the area where the case occurs. They can see that GOB with 45 years of existence fully complies with this description.

If you consider that when we make these accusations we are harassing your Town Council at a political level, it is because they have a problem in understanding. GOB carries out similar activities constantly throughout Menorca, with the Town Councils, with other institutions, at all levels. Long before you even entered politics.

As well as the case of Torre Vella we have kept in correspondence and in consultations with other organisations involved. Without a problem. Only with Alaior have we found that they do not allow us to see documentation until everything is resolved. Someone might think that you are discriminating for political reasons.

There is an important coincidence with the two cases that have generated this controversy. Because both the hotels of Son Bou and the swimming pools of Torre Vella are cases of infringement by people who have not complied with the conditions authorised in their corresponding licenses.

Coincidentally, it was GOB who advised on these two breaches. It is a little curious that you do not leave until the subject has been closed, only after which GOB is allowed to see the presented documentation.

Make a commitment to conservation for Menorca, which has proved a successful path. Reconsider your position and work for transparency in public management. There should be no need to resort to law to obtain it.