Testimony to some years of dangers in regional planning
So judged the Court in Palma. The aquatic park installation authorised in Biniancolla in 2014 in a protected rural area is not in the general public interest.
The last government in Menorca made different attempts to ignore the status of protected land and made town planning a la carte using the argument of needing to reinvigorate investing because of the economic crisis.
Notably, their so called “legitimate” activities were on a list of specific cases which they particularly favoured.
Their “legitimising” activities were included in the first versions of the Norma Territorial Transitòria (Transitional Land Regulation) which they used to modify the PTI (Pla Territorial Insular: Territorial Planning Regulations). Finally, the modifications were not included in the definitive version because they were insufficiently protected under the law.
The aquatic park of Biniancolla was on that list. It was initiated by the business promoter of the Hotel Sur Menorca as he wanted to put it on the land adjoining the hotel, although it was found to be rural land of special protection.
The project was not sent directly for the Transitional Land Regulation but was covered by being declared of general public interest. In August of 2013 there was a public presentation when GOB warned, amongst other things, that this was dealing with rural land of special protection and that it was implausible that the construction would serve for out of season tourism. Furthermore, the other aquatic parks of Menorca had been made on urban sites.
The technical reports and the lawyers of the Consell Insular were against the project, but the governing party looked for other external reports until they found one they favoured. GOB made an appeal before the approval was granted but it was dismissed.
Amongst the appellants were some with interests in the existing aquatic parks in Menorca, claiming they had been built on urban land because it was not justifiable to make them on rural land. If authorization were given for Biniancolla this would be regarded as unfair competition because of the difference in the price of urban land and protected rural land.
There were those businessmen who pursued the law and on which judgement has now been given. It is a very strong argument against that put forward by the government of the Consell Insular at the time.
The Judge said that it was not freed from the permissible building parameters (above 4% to 55%) of the occupation of the parcel of land, that it was not credible that it was an initiative which would serve for “rural development”, that it did not have a solid argument for a “minimum visual impact” but that it was indeed of great visual impact.
The legal resolution is also convincing when the argument is analysed of the desired contribution to out of season tourism. It says that it is about something that is generally unacceptable and it does not understand the attraction of an out of season aquatic park.
In GOB’s opinion, the sentence serves to confirm common sense and the stupefying credibility with which the proposal for the project was given with such force and with so little argument.
An uncertain future
Following the declaration of general public interest awarded by the Consell Insular at that time, the Sant Lluís town hall gave the licence for the work which then took place in 2015. The park has been operational for the last two summers (it works only in high season).
The governing party of the current Consell Insular is made up of political parties that are against the aquatic park. But if the sentence becomes an actual fact, we could have some very high compensation payments for what have been known until now as town planning subjects.
The difference is that, in this case, it is not about land which has been saved for urbanisation but rather it is land which has been destroyed through no reasonable argument. It is a new instance of fait a compli politics which, in any event, was benefitting an individual and putting a burden on the civil service, in other words the general public.