Torrevieja salt lakes

Torrevieja Town Hall has lost a case in the High Court, in which they attempted to reclassify the land in the immediate vicinity of the salt lakes surrounding the city.

The aim was to declassify the land as not being covered by the Coastal Act, therefore removing the land from the public domain, which would have allowed for the construction of buildings and other features on the banks of the lakes.

In April 2012, the Ministry of the Environment approved the final demarcation of two lagoons, but after several years of discussion and cessation of any activity on the fringes of ground, the High Court has now ruled that the land does fall within the legislation. The boundary affects all land located around the edges of the two lakes, 1,330 acres in La Mata and 2,160 in Torrevieja, comprising of more than 45 linear miles of shoreline that affects the municipalities of Rojales, Los Montesinos and Guardamar del Segura, as well as the canals in Acequión and La Mata.

In the appeal made by a municipal architect, Torrevieja claimed that the Salinas are “two inland water bodies, which from time immemorial remain isolated from the marine environment and cannot be considered wetlands, lagoons and marshes, not being land that is flooded as a result of ebb and flow of the tides or sea water filtration” As a result, “The lagoons cannot be considered a maritime zone that meets the characteristics of the Coastal Act to be considered public domain”

On behalf of the State meanwhile, the appeal focused on the environmental values of the region to maintain their status as public domain, including declaration that the wetland has been classed as of importance since 1989 in the international Ramsar convention and are included within the Special Protection Areas for birds (ZEPA) and the Natura 2000 network.

A geomorphologic study also supported the position of the state, warning that urban and agricultural activities have exerted “considerable” pressure on land adjacent to the lagoons. One project which now clearly falls foul of the legislation is the infamous “cigar” health spa. After over a million euro was invested in the project, all that remains is the crumbling and decaying shell as a testament to waste and poor municipal management, which must now be either demolished or moved, but either way, the ruling now gives credibility to protecting the natural environment surrounding some of the most tranquil and rich lagunas along the east coast of Spain.

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