Overcrowding must be combatted in 2024

Views: 199

The urgency to take measures to stop the growing overcrowding from which Menorca has been suffering in the last few years has been the focus of GOB’s intervention at a Plenary session of the Consell Insular in March. The president of GOB, Margarida Masferrer, explained the problems that are being experienced and the worrying announcements that are heard from public institutions.

The value of Menorca is its unspoilt areas

In a room unusually full of people interested in the subject, the GOB representative recalled that President Vilafranca had attended, recently, different tourist fairs and that the images shown of Menorca at these events always found an angle that hid the urbanisations, gave a vista that did not show any roads or electric cables, and gave pictures of beaches with very few people…

This well studied approach for the island publicity is no coincidence. It is done because everyone knows that this is what gives real value to our island: the landscapes without houses, red cows pasteurizing, and the sky filled with silhouettes of kites in flight…

Awareness of this reality makes the path that Menorca has taken in the last few years very worrying. The overcrowding of each summer is growing annually. Each year there are more people and more vehicles.

That means more water extraction, more need for energy, greater saturation of car parks and of natural spaces and more inability for wastewater treatment plants to deal with such increased numbers. To these environmental problems are added social problems that are only intensifying such as the impossibility of finding homes in which to live.

Worrying institutional announcements

Repeated announcements made by those wanting to eliminate the tourist moratorium are very concerning. Such announcements, for instance, are about making modifications to the Cami de Cavalls, or that say vehicle congestion could be resolved by building more roads, or wanting to make more car parks on rural land, or that the price of home ownership will be resolved if more free price housing were constructed.

Margarida Masferrer reminded that our island is a Reserve of the Biosphere and a World Cultural Heritage Site. She said, at the Plenary Session of the Consell Insular, that they have in their hands the responsibility of managing a treasure. A treasure that deserves a dignified future, a treatment that lives up to what has taken so much to maintain.

The path of trying to resolve an exaggerated tourist demand, by increasing supply, was taken by Mallorca and Ibiza some years ago. Menorca should not commit the same errors.

Formentera has done it, Menorca can do it, Ibiza wants to do it

Some years ago, on the small neighbouring island of Formentera, a public debate started about the circulation standstill brought about by cars in the summer. Between making more roads or limiting the number of vehicles, there was a unanimous decision to put a limit the number of vehicles. The assessment has been so good that now the Island of Ibiza wants to apply the same method.

In Menorca, we have the Law of the Reserve of the Biosphere that grants the Consell Insular the power to establish a limit on the number of rental cars and on those that come with tourists by boat. It must do so through a Plenary agreement such as that at the Plenary session attended by a large number of citizens in March.

Logically, a study is required of road traffic congestion. That work has now been done. The Consell Insular (the Island Governing Council) has paid, with public money, a complete study, that is open for everyone to read. It says that in July and August, Menorca has 30% more vehicles than the reception capacity allows. In June and September it is surpassed by 20%. The studies have been done and approved by Law. Only a decision is needed.

Vilafranca wants to delay action. GOB asks for speed

President Vilafranca has spoken a great deal on the territorial model for Menorca, but his announcements are made from previous studies and activities and which would delay measures to be taken.

This is evident, for example, when he said that, before limiting the number of vehicles, there should be road reform, public transport increased and a new study made on the increase of vehicles – he does not like the one already produced. It is easy to see that this would take years.

The President of GOB asked him for decisions to be taken this year, 2024. In Formentera, the first year vehicle numbers were limited to the number registered in the previous year. To do this, there is no need for new roads, no more public transport, nor more studies.

It should be noted that in Ibiza the Partido Popular has been in government for some time, and wish they could have a new law like that in Menorca and have the power to regulate vehicle entry.

It is paradoxical that Ibiza is more interested than Menorca in applying policies of this style.