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Opposition parties challenge Spain's Coastal Property Law

Mon 12th Jul 2010

A number of Regional political parties have finally decided to joined forces to bring some order, and try and make sense of Spain's Coastal Property Law.

Since being introduced over 20 years ago, the 'Ley de Costas' essentially nationalised the entire Spanish coastline, which directed effected the ownership rights of tens of thousands of properties.

The law was intended to protect the coastline from over-development, and to protect it as a valuable asset for future generations – a well-intentioned idea, but as with the notorious 'Valencian land-grab' law, one that has been badly interpreted and implemented.

As a response to pressure from affected owners, the Coalición Canaria are proposing that demolition orders against properties built on the recently reclassified land, are removed – even if the properties were built after the creation of the law in 1988. They also suggest things such as architectural and historic values are taken into account when evaluating property built in the areas effected, and to pass the decision-making responsibilities over demolitions to regional authorities, all of which would make any necessary demolitions far less likely.

The Catalan nationalists want to revise the boundary criteria for built up areas, and argue that many of the victims of this law were foreigners who were unaware of the risks when they bought homes on the coast in good faith, resulting in yet more international condemnation for Spain.

The PP are proposing more debate on the subject - "People have come to regard as sacred this law that has failed to achieve its objective, as in the 20 years since it was introduced the coast has suffered the greatest damage" Carlos Floriano, the Party's environmental spokesman, told the Spanish press. "It hasn't managed to reconcile the environment and respect for private property. Many people's rights are being violated by its procedures."

The Green party are against any reform of the law, despite its failure to protect the environment so far.

The socialist government opposes any reform to the law, however, it has been noted that any infraction of the law have not been rigorously challenged by the authorities of late.

There is still no word when, or indeed 'if' the debate will take place.

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