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Coastal Property Law reforms to be debated

Fri 11th Feb 2011

Spain's hugely controversial and unpopular 'Ley de Costas' or Coastal Property Law, is due to be reformed in the Senate following demands made by the PP and the CiU.

The law has stood unchanged for more than two decades, however, the Senate has voted to allow two changes to be discussed in Congress. This is a significant step as previous reform attempts have failed.


Those in favour of the reform are claiming to defend the rights of the owners of small individual properties, as opposed to businesses exploiting the coastline, whereas environmentalists argue that they are trying to defend the entire coastline of Spain for future generations.

The Catalans in particular wish to create certain areas of the coastline, notably around larger urban areas, where the law will not apply, however, the PP are more critical of the law as a whole and argue that it has been administered erratically, and those who have suffered from this have gone uncompensated.

For their part the Government argues that they have acted reasonably and legally by allowing all properties built legally within the 'coastal zone' to be used by the current owners for a period of up to 60 years. The PP proposes that such legal properties be allowed to remain, but if individual circumstances dictate that they should be demolished, then the owners should be suitably compensated.


A number of International ecological groups have criticised the PP and CiU for what they call the privatisation of Spain's coastline, and claim that the coastal zone is public land as defined by the Spanish Constitution.


The law remains a contentious issue in the European Parliament, with many expats owning an unsaleable property and finding themselves with little chance of compensation. The German and British Ambassadors in particular have previously expressed their concerns and branded the law 'abusive'.

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