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Andalucía, Asturias, Catalunya, Canaries and the Basque Country challenge 'Ley de Costas' in Constitutional Court
By thinkSPAIN Team Mon, Jul 8, 2013
FIVE regional governments in Spain are appealing against the newly-redrafted Coastal Law, or Ley de Costas, via the Constitutional Court.
Andalucía, the Canary Islands, Catalunya, the Basque Country and Asturias say the law text violates the right to equality and invades regional government jurisdiction.
Their regional environmental and planning ministers recall that over half of Spain's coastline is in these federal communities - the rest belonging to Cantabria, Galicia, Murcia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands - and that they should therefore be allowed to make their own judgments rather than being dictated to by the central government in Madrid, which does not even have a coastline.
They say that 12 areas of coast in these regions have been given a 'reprieve' from the effects of the Coastal Law with no clear guidelines as to how they were differentiated from the rest.
Parts of the law text are impossible to understand, and that it is also 'a backward step' because they are forced to submit environmental impact reports when they decide to develop areas of coastline, even where the land in question has already been declared suitable for building on.
The Coastal Law (Ley de Costas), aimed at protecting Spain's shoreline, includes provisions which have robbed thousands of residents of their homes.
In the event of coastal erosion, the General Directorate of Coasts (Dirección General de Costas) moves the invisible boundary between sea and dry land farther away from the shore, effectively widening the beach.
Any houses which, as a result, find themselves on the wrong side of the line then automatically become the property of the State and the owner's only 'compensation' is the right to continue living there rent-free for 30 years, but is unable to sell, bequeath, mortgage, rent out, repair or renovate the property.
The amended Ley de Costas increases this to 75 years and allows the owner do to all of the above, but they still do not have title to the home they rightfully bought or inherited and the government still reserves the right to bulldoze the property if they decide to do so, with no compensation payable.
Highly-developed areas of coast, particularly new properties which have been built taking the Coastal Law into account, as opposed to those which are several decades old, are rarely affected by this situation as coastal erosion is not an issue.
Local councils in the relatively few affected areas have been offering full support and helping homeowners to fight their case.
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