construction legality at Algorrobics's Beach

Marta RomeroMarta Romero specializes in conveyance law. She was admitted to the Valencia Bar in 1998 and has worked as a lawyer in Spain and England. I along side a team of lawyers based in Valencia City, who specialized in different legal areas such as Criminal Law, Civil Law Litigation, Commercial Law, International Law, Conveyancing and Property Law.  She is also fluent in  English and French and specialize in providing  bilingual legal advice. 



The latest Spanish media has shown and published some Greenpeace protest regarding a hotel illegally built near a beach in Carboneras (Almeria) – Playa del Algarrobico -. Is this construction truly illegal?

This is a polemic issue not only because Greenpeace and other non profit organizations are involved but also because the matter is legally complex itself, so I might try to make you understand it in very simply words.

At the moment this issue is part of a court process started by a local ecologist association called, Asociación Salvemos Mojacar y el Levante Almeriense (Safe Mojacar and the Almeria –Levante- coast Association) against the Azata Hotel Company and the Ayuntamiento of Carboneras. This process is based in three different legal bases.

Firstly, Spanish Act on Defense of the National Coast – Ley de Costas - considers a hundred meters as a minimum distance - from the sea coast front line to the “main land” – to be respected from any building to be constructed after this act was published on 28th July 1988. So no building must be developed between these 100 meters.

The Azata´s Hotel does not comply with this hundred meters, so is invading a protected area. However, their building permission is dated from 1988 and the local law approving the urbanization plan where the hotel was included was published on 3rd August 1988. This means that if only a week before the Ayuntamiento had published its urbanization plan the building permission would be apparently legal.

A comment I might add is that the Spanish legal system makes effective any law from the date of publishing in the official paper BOE or BOCA (Boletin oficial del Estado or de la Comunidad Autónoma), this is because it will be from that date when a law can be considered as known by the population, so in fact ready to be respected.

A second matter of these legal bases is the fact of Algarrobico´s Beach being part of a National Park called Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata – Nijar. This area was declared Natural Park the 23rd December 1987 by the Spanish Government (and in 1997 Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO).

Legislation on natural parks always focuses on respecting the land and obviously nature. The fact that this huge hotel is being built within this protected area and is and will have an effect on the local nature goes against this legislation.

Thirdly, the building permission was given from the Carboneras´ Town Hall in 1988 and the building construction was not actually due to start until 2003. The fact that there is no way that 13 years from the original application that the permission to the start the building would still be valid, this means that at some point there has been an extension of the permission.

Going back to the Spanish Act on Defense of the National Coast, we could read a flat refusal on providing any extension on time for building approved against this Coast Act. So how do they use permission from 1988?

At the moment there is a provisional order from the judge stopping the building in the Algarrobico´ Beach and whenever this long process finishes, hopefully Justice will make a good decision this time and give a favorable sentence to the ecologist association.

©  Marta Romero 2006

Photo: Playa de El Algarrobico,

 © Amigos del Parque


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