Letter to the Town Council of Alaior (1): The Son Bou Hotels

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We return to talking about the hotels of Son Bou because the Court of Palma has dismissed the complaint of possible prevarication for not allowing GOB to consult files. Let us see how things have been.

GOB has regularly made use of the right recognised by law to consult files that have some repercussion on the environment. Working for the environment is the reason for the existence of the entity and no one should be surprised about what we do.

Moreover, public institutions should be pleased that there are members of the public who are organised for participating in any decision making.  This is the philosophy that inspires many current laws and that also appear in the Constitution (Art 9: “Corresponding to public powers (…) to facilitate participation of all citizens in political, economic, cultural and social life”).

In practicing this active participation, the entity discovered that the two towers corresponding to the hotels that are on the front line of the Son Bou beach had never complied with the conditions required for the size of the plots figuring in the licence given in the seventies. Nor had they complied with the expressed prohibition to construct basements. Thus, possibilities were open for rebuilding one of the greatest landscape impacts that has been made on the Menorcan coast.

The idea of rebuilding was communicated to the Alaior Town Council by GOB and a government team commissioned numerous internal and external legal reports concerning this. Therefore, when the property company of the hotels presented a project reorganising the plots, GOB asked to be able to consult the new documentation.

It was then that the Town Council denied the request alleging that the processing was incomplete. It implies that GOB is not an interested party nor that it can be considered as an environmental matter.

Mirin, members of the Government team, we can understand the circumstances that existed in the seventies when surreal reports said that the hotels improved the landscape, when the technician reporting on the part of  the Town Council was, at the same time, the attorney of the owners of the land. We understand because we were still under a dictatorship.

However, now nearly 60 years later, the democratic town council has the opportunity to reduce the impact of the hotels of Son Bou yet their attitude to impede the consultation of documentation that seeks to consolidate and strengthen the buildings, says very little in favour of what now should be responsible public action.

Furthermore, that they are impeding a non-profit making entity that works with the aim of rationalising the use of Menorcan land, simply adds fuel to the fire.

GOB is made up of people of all political colours and for that reason it is one of the associations with the greatest cross section of society on the island. It is an entity declared as a Public Utility by Ministerial Agreement, which has received local, regional, state and international awards. We are united by the desire to rationalise human activities with environmental conservation.

Besides, it would be good to know how many people there are to whom you have denied consultation to documents that are in a public institution, giving as a reason that they are dealing with unfinished documentation. As will be realised, it is unbelievable that this is a technical decision, because it is the first time it has occurred in 45 years. Let us see if it is going to be you who has animosity towards environmental questions and the entities that work for it.

Let us imagine that people will be aware that it is difficult to understand your approach. Impeding the consultation of documents until a decision has been made is tantamount to avoiding public participation until it is fait accompli. This is not what the laws say (the Constitution, the Law of Administrative Procedure, the Law of Access to environmental information, and a few more.)

This is not what the Order published in the BOE of 2021 says that makes explicit what should be understood by environmental information and that says, amongst other things, it is any administrative procedure that affects projects with landscape impacts or that are carried out in coastal zones. Two towers of 12 floors on the front line of the beach fit this description well.

Furthermore, what problem could there be if GOB were to consult the documentation? Would it find things that are not right? Then we could go ahead with reducing the landscape impact of the hotels. And, if nothing wrong were found? Then nothing would happen. Instead, we now have to work with licences already granted.

Finally, – for today – we would also like to mention the declarations made by the Councillor for Urban planning, who reproaches GOB for not having asked for a meeting with the Town Council before going to Court. This is particularly shocking because when GOB wrote to the Mayor asking them to reconsider their stance of not letting the file be consulted, the same Councillor for Urbanisation made declarations to the press (30/06/2021) saying that if GOB did not agree with the municipal stance “they had at their disposition the courts”. He made clear his desire for dialogue.

This is why we are here. So as not to cross our arms in front of what we understand is inadmissible. The Provincial Court recognises that GOB has presented legislation and jurisprudence to endorse its theses, but has decided not to resolve the dispute raised on access to files and asks for another jurisdiction to do it. Then, the presumption of legality of a public institution will prevail. The Court has declared “there is no evidence of an activity grossly contrary to the law”. Let everyone draw his or her own conclusions on this description.

Next, we will take care of the other file that they did not want to show. This refers to documentation that tries to legalise the illegal swimming pools at the Torre Vella agroturism.