Tag Archives: Economy

Maria Tudurí Sintes, winner of the Pere Prats Prize for the Environment

Maria Tudurí Sintes has been designated, unanimously by the jury, the winner of the 2023 Pere Prats Prize for the Environment.

The jury considered that Maria Tudurí has all the qualities that deserve the award of the 2023 Pere Prats Prize for the Environment, based on her career, for being a woman of initiative, and an entrepreneur with drive that has known how to develop in a traditionally male world. Continue reading Maria Tudurí Sintes, winner of the Pere Prats Prize for the Environment

Letter to the new president of Melià about Son Bou

To Mr Gabriel Escarrer

It has recently been published that the Melià company, owner of the large hotels at Son Bou, has changed directors. You, Gabriel Escarrer, son, have taken over as director from Gabriel Escarrer, father. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your new role and wish you every success.

As you surely know, in Menorca we have a certain argument over one of your establishments. We thought that, now, at the beginning of this new position, it would be useful to explain to you the reasons for the disagreements that GOB has over the modernisation project for the hotels at Son Bou that your company is trying to process on our Island.

In the seventies, on the largest beach of Menorca, two towers were built with 12 floors that had some constructions added to the sides and made into a hotel given the singular name of Milanos-Pingüinos. The Melià Company acquired it some years ago and, in 2017, presented a project to modernise the building.

The supposed improvement is not accompanied by a reduction in guest places, as might be expected, but plans to maintain the current number of 1,140, most of which function as “all included”.

In summary, the action that your company wishes to carry out means maintaining  the current height of the towers cutting only 428 square meters off a corner between floors 9 and 12 and adding a lot of new volume (6,000 square meters) between the ground floor and the seventh floor. This will mean affecting the landscape because now, at least, the sea can be seen between the towers, but with the new project, it would be screened off.

In addition, it is proposed to double the swimming pools area, the intention being to make 2,245 square meters available for them on a plot of land that is on the first line, less than 90 meters from the sea.

These figures, Mr Escarrer, seem to sit badly with the sustainability declaration that your company makes and with the promises announced in its publications.

We cannot quite understand how the energy consumption of the establishment could be made, how to imagine that the objectives announced for the Agenda 2030 can be completed, nor how the improvement in the water footprint could be achieved, if the hotel were to be enlarged, the number of guest places maintained and the swimming pools doubled.

We explain all this to you because we know that it is common for the top management not to know the details of the information published by their company. For example, you may not be aware that they boast making a reduction in carbon emissions of 51% (which is a huge percentage) but the example used is for 2020 (the year of the pandemic when all the world came to a standstill.)

Mr Escarrer, we think that you have a golden opportunity to show your real commitment to an island like this, a Reserve of the Biosphere. You have the possibility to present a new project that adapts to the current urban parameters, of a ground floor with two more levels thus freeing Menorca of one of the worst attacks made on its coastal landscape.

When deciding, keep in mind that GOB has repeatedly written to the Alaior Town Council warning them that the hotels are in an illegal position, as confirmed by several court reports commissioned by the Council. There is not sufficient area in the plot of land.

Recently, our entity, with the help of many people, has filed a lawsuit against the group that has tried adding square meters to legalise the hotel. It seems that in so doing they have taken green areas but, even so, the enlarged area is insufficient.

Depending on the result of this litigation, it will also be possible to see the degree of responsibility of those people who worked to stop any prior consultation of the documents, who prepared reports and gave the orders to carry out manoeuvres that are now being analysed in detail by the lawyers and designated experts.

These are some of the issues inherited from the past. However, you are starting a new period and perhaps could make things happen differently. In our opinion, companies can play a very active role in restructuring for the world’s needs. If at any time you would like to discuss this matter directly, you would be welcome to get in touch.

Yours sincerely,

GOB Menorca

Cala Corb lesson and the danger to s’Altra Banda

Four years of paralysis for ignoring the environmental laws

In Cala Corb, on the southern pavement of the Port of Maó works for connecting the pavement with the Moll d’en Pons, have been stopped for four years.

The reason was that the procedure used by the Port Authority awarded work consisting of a cantilevered walkway and suddenly, without any formalities or prior authorisation, it was turned into a construction dock with dozens of trucks emptying rocks into the sea.

A cantilevered walkway attached to the rock-face has hardly any effect on the marine environment, but, obviously, tons and tons of rocks being poured into the sea will transform its environment radically.

Any land subject to European laws, for some decades past, before causing such a transformation such as this, first commissions an environmental impact study, to know what values exist and to see if things can be done in such a way that cause the least loss of natural values.

A significant environmental impact

However, the Port Authority maintains that, as Maó is a State port, the environmental impact law does not apply, it has validity, they say, only in areas that have regional jurisdiction.

State regulation, however, is applicable over protected species. So, if works end up affecting a protected species, then there is a cumbersome terrain of reports, potential sanctions and specific authorisations. This is what has occurred at Cala Corb.

The dumping of rocks without control seriously affected a colony of protected coral that has been practically devastated. Had this been done by an individual, they would have been fined and in danger of being prosecuted through criminal channels.

Before a fait acompli, it was necessary to wait for a resolution from the corresponding ministerial department that had undertaken to contract a scientific service to move the remains of the coral to another part of the Maó port. Four years of paralysis and added costs for not wanting to realise that environmental laws are the same as others.

A new threat to the northern walkway: works and desalination plants

Recently, the Port Authority has put the management out to tender of the moorings by the northern walkway (the area known as s’Altra Banda) as well as those attached to the Isla del Rey.

Having consulted the specifications it can be deduced that whoever takes on the concession could significantly increase the number of moorings and, consequently, the areas where new installations could be put. To the 390 moorings that there are now, could be added another 250.

This intention contradicts two important points. In the first place, it implies adding a large number of new boats when Menorca has a study of the nautical load capacity of the island that was already saturated more than 10 years ago.

The second point is that it means altering new areas where no studies of the natural values have been presented.

The tender specifications also allow for installing various small desalination plants to provide water for the boats. But, there is no explanation for what is planned for the salt water generated by the desalination plants and it is not necessary to be very perceptive in deducing that it will be poured into the port itself which will significantly alter the natural environment.

The Port of Maó is a natural port

The large marine area that provides safe anchorage for Maó is a natural port that houses protected species and that offers important biological functions. The dynamic that tries to continue growth each year with new infrastructures and, furthermore, without doing previous studies on any environmental impact, serves to provide the basis for new environmental conflicts.

GOB has asked that any new pontoons are constructed with a system of “piles and fingers” (rather than with concrete blocks and chains) in order to better protect the seabed. They also requested that priority on waiting lists for a mooring be given to boats of traditional construction, with sail or electric drive motor.

It was also requested that no increases be made for moorings near areas where there is seafood, since water in a good condition is required and it is important to maintain economic diversification within the port.

Acting with a vision for the future

The proposal from GOB is that the orientation of the Port of Maó is focussed on improving the quality of its nautical services as well as improving shipyard boat maintenance and not on increasing the number of boats in the sea.

The level of the nautical saturation now seen in many of the coves during the summer, as well as the need to recover environmental values that have been lost due to excesses committed in the last decades, leads us to ask for a new commitment that is not based on quantity but on quality.

GOB coordinates its different island sections

Organised civil society, that works to achieve collective interests, is now more necessary than ever in our archipelago: to work on environmental, social and economic aspects. During the weekend of 17 June GOB brought together its Balearic Islands sections and analysed the new political context.

The problem of tourist overcrowding would increase if the messages spread by the political parties forecast to form new government teams were applied. This route is considered wrong with loss of residents’ quality of life, with great pressure on natural values and a loss of positive economic results.

The impossibility of a large part of the resident population to visit certain beaches during the tourist season, the enormous difficulty to find parking in areas taken over by tourist vehicles, the price of housing that, in many cases, prevents exercising a constitutional right, are some of the social effects of the growing and unidirectional commitment towards mass tourism.

In economic terms, tourist overcrowding goes against per capita income as picked up by economic publications. In 1983, the province of the Balearic Islands was second in the state ranking. At that time, 4.3 million tourists visited the islands. In 2022, the Balearics appeared in 22nd place for state ranking, having received 16.5 million tourists.

It is clear that overcrowding does not contribute to the welfare of society, but only to certain activities that are extracted in economic terms, that is, extracting profits generated by the island and taken to other places.

This excess pressure shows repeated planning errors. Ibiza has three desalination plants and the aquifers are overexploited. Mallorca has been widening roads and new road infrastructures continue to be announced. In Menorca the sensation of saturation is growing and undeclared tourist accommodation takes up homes that should be for residents.

Faced with these growing problems, GOB has agreed for the society to work to promote control measures that will help social welfare and environmental recovery.

There are tools for these measures that can be used such as establishing a limit on the vehicles of each island, which has been successfully tested in Formentera; such as regulating the abusive extractions of water; such as management of the nautical offer without degrading natural values nor the quality of the experience of those using it; such as putting a brake on the promotion of summer tourism; such as the correct management of protected areas for conserving and recovering natural values.

Society is usually ahead of institutions in vision and commitment for the future. The islands need to organise themselves to find ways that balance conservation with non-speculative progress.

Catalogue of Land Stewardship Scheme Farms

A catalogue of farms in the Land Stewardship Scheme is now available, in which you will find all the information necessary for each producer on the Scheme, the products for sale and the contacts required for making your purchase. Not all the farms that are part of the Land Stewardship Scheme are listed, only those that have products for direct sale. Continue reading Catalogue of Land Stewardship Scheme Farms

A new farm incorporated into the Land Stewardship Scheme

Parella Vella is the latest farm that has committed to the sustainable development of its agricultural and livestock activities respecting the natural environment to be incorporated into the network of farms within the Land Stewardship Scheme.

Located to the south of Ciutadella, the farm of about 12 hectares in area is managed by the brothers Dani and Isaac for a varied produce with ecological certification. Producing organic vegetables and fruit is the main activity but not the only one. It also has extensive cattle farming that includes 6 Menorcan cows. This allows for the rotation of the land and its fertilization, and being able to offer the resulting meat for sale. Seeding is done for the cattle to forage.

The countryside is at the mercy of the weather and Parella Vella was one of the estates affected by the heavy rains of August and September in 2022. During this period of storms nearly all the cultivated produce and various infrastructures, such as the greenhouses that allow time for some products to have a longer season, were lost.

After this disaster, it was necessary to reorganise and relaunch all the produce, which is not an easy task but important to maintain the activity. Being part of the Land Stewardship Scheme they gained support and encouragement for the recovery of the farm and establishing lines of work, such as, for example, enlarging areas of flowers favoured by pollinators so increasing the farm productivity.

The commercialisation of its produce is made by direct selling such as the weekly delivery of baskets to private buyers of produce made together with two other farms, or at the Ciutadella Farmers Market with another farm. Their products can be found in some shops or used by school canteens in Ciutadella.

The programme of the Land Stewardship Scheme contributes to the economic viability of agriculture and the conservation of the natural values of the Menorcan landscape. With the addition of Parella Vella to the network, there are now 37 professional farms committed to sustainable farming practices.

For an overview of the Land Stewardship Scheme, watch this short video. This others videos show in more detail the activities carried out as a result of the Scheme.

The Law of Rights for future generations approved

For the first time, the Balearic Islands Parliament has approved a law as the result of popular demand and with a pioneering proposal: to guarantee the welfare of current and future generations.

Last week a new landmark was reached for the environmental claims of the Islands. The Parliament passed a law, proposed by an associative network, that must take care of the welfare of present and future generations. That is to say, a law that guarantees policies made today will take into account how they can affect the welfare of generations to come.

A legislative text was generated through the mechanism of the People’s Legislative Initiative, which is one that is presented from outside Parliament because of a public initiative. A campaign, led by GOB but in which many associations and individuals participated, received prior support from 12,000 signatures and the concurrence of organizations throughout the Islands and the State.

The new law provides for the creation of a Commission that will be appointed by Parliament and include experts from many fields: education; investigation and innovation; agro ecology and food sovereignty; environment and biodiversity; mitigation and adaptation to the climate crisis; social justice; economy model; urbanisation; territory and countryside; water and energy resources; equality and gender politics; immigration; infants and youth; and public health.

The functions of the Commission are, in part, to issue evaluation resolutions on the intergenerational impact assessment reports prepared by public institutions on the procedures for drafting regulations, budget laws, territorial and sectorial plans, projects over 5 million euros or those declared of special interest. Other functions are to advise and train public bodies that ask for help on evaluating the long-term impact of their actions.

This approach to intergenerational justice is a pioneer for Spain and gives new hope for improving sustainability in reality, not just theoretical, in public politics. It is expected to be a new useful resource making life central, at a moment when our societies confront growing inequalities and environmental risks without precedent.

GOB is grateful for the collaboration of people and companies that have shown a broad support for this popular legislative initiative, which is also the first to be approved in the Islands democratically in the 40 years under the Statute of Autonomy.

Thanks are also given for the availability found within the progressive parliamentary majority, the Ministry of the Presidency and the Legal Profession of the Autonomous Community that have allowed us to work together on the amendments presented to improve the law. On the 28 March, favourable votes were made by the PSOE, Unidas Podem, Mes for Mallorca and Mes for Menorca. The rest of Parliament voted against.

Increased tourist inspection in Menorca

GOB welcomes the increase on the staff of tourist inspectors in Menorca. With the recent addition of two, there will be seven to carry out this work.

The emergence of digital platforms has led to the mass rental of houses to tourists, many of which are unauthorised. This problem is not exclusive to Menorca, but it has been estimated that there are between 6,000 to 7,000 houses that make undeclared rentals.

Apart from the short-term income that can be made by some property owners, the situation is causing two negative consequences at the collective level. The most evident is the overcrowding in summer. Last August there were some 35,000 people unknown where they slept. This number is estimated by discounting the registered population, the recognised tourist places and the margin of people that stay in houses of families or friends.

Having such a large volume of tourists occupying unplanned places is making the island suffer from evident overcrowding, when, in fact, a policy to contain the growth of new urbanizations has been made.

However, tourist rental is recognised as one of the main reasons for the lack of available housing for the resident population or for those who come to work seasonally.

In effect, there are about 28,000 places that are legalized for this mode, which is equivalent, according to official figures, to some 5,600 houses. If this is added to the number of 6,000 or 7,000, undeclared rental houses cited above, we come to spectacular figures.

In order to curb the negative consequences GOB has asked on several occasions to increase substantially the amount of work for controlling the situation. For this reason, reinforcing the tourist inspection service has been received very positively.

Overcrowding Menorca and leaving it without places to live is not a good way to go for the Island. As has been said on many occasions, the collective interest should prevail over the individual.

Look at the commemorative video of the 45 years that GOB has been in Menorca.