The Costas, Spanish Coastal Authority, are investigating whether the San Bartolomé de Tirajana Town Hall’s Beaches Department have been carrying out unauthorised work by moving large rocks around the Faro de Maspalomas Lighthouse, in an alleged effort to expand the breakwater running parallel to the walkway, along which Gran Canaria’s most iconic beach is accessed from the lighthouse. A video, recorded by local residents shows a digger operator moving large stones and stacking them in front of the famous Senator restaurant, resulting in controversy across social networks. The Costas sent a technician yesterday to find out in detail what this intervention on the beach has entailed and why.
The head of the Costas, Rafael López Orive, yesterday said that his department has not given any authorisations to San Bartolomé de Tirajana Town Council to move the rocks, and recalled that nearly then years ago this town council, under a different mayor, carried out similar types of unauthorised work attempting to extend a breakwater from the Lighthouse to the Oasis shopping centre, when they only had permission to reinforce the rocky area next to the Lighthouse itself, so they had to remove all the rocks that were brought from El Cochino beach, and had been placed on the breakwater and in the sand.
López Orive also revealed that approximately two months ago this Beaches Department requested permission to expand the wooden walkway, along the beachfront from the Lighthouse, as part of a request to manage the seasonal services of the beach, but this was not authorised because the boardwalk is not included in the concession to manage sunbeds and parasols. He pointed out that his department responded to the Town Council by saying that “the extension of the boardwalk is a specific action that has nothing to do with seasonal services and therefore requires another administrative procedure.”
Beaches councillor, Samuel Henríquez, has denied that the SBT Council workers had moved stones or carried out unauthorised work, so as to widen the lighthouse breakwater. Henríquez says that because low tide had occurred at 10:40 pm on Sunday night, they had simply used that fact to “relocate” the breakwater that already exists on this beach. He also said that at the same time, throughout the night, an access ramp was made, to provide better access to the rubbish bin rooms belonging to the Oasis shopping centre and the El Senador restaurant. However, he insisted that what the residents were denouncing was not accurate.
Samuel Henríquez, the councillor for Playas de San Bartolomé de Tirajana, has said in an interview this morning that he does not understand the commotion created on social networks following an 8 minute long instagram video posted by surfer and local resident campaigner, Iván Monagas, in which he complains about a breakwater being created.
The mayor Conchi Narvaez has insisted that they ask the company in charge of the movement of stones and sand to clarify the situation and their responsibilities. In a letter they have said “We are the first ones who want to preserve the environment” he says.
In statements from the San Bartolomé de Tirana Town Council they have acknowledged that the company FCC bitumax is responsible for the work carried out during the early hours of last Saturday, when the tide was low, and on Monday morning. The objective, according to the Consistory, was to reinforce the area against the waves and the existing risk for users, in addition to making it possible for the municipal rubbish truck to access the bins and collect waste from the CC Oasis.
Henríquez points out that last Friday they received a call from the Policía Local warning that a landslide was possible in the area due to sand at that point along the walkway having disappeared over the last few weeks, so they hired a company to reinforce the access to the shared room house the rubbish bins. This was in no way unauthorised work for any other reason.
The actions, carried out between 2am and 7am last Saturday morning, when the tide was low, consisted of stabilising the area “by repositioning stones fallen from the tip of the breakwater, due to the effects of the sea, and placing sand on top of them to later pave and generate a [retaining] slope with which to avoid the risk of rockfalls ”. On Monday morning, we proceeded “to remove the [excess] that had accumulated during the day on Sunday and replace the sand on the slope that the tides took away so that the truck could collect the rubbish.”
“We have done what we have historically been doing on the beach. Rubbish has been collected like this for 40 years”. The mayor has responded to the criticisms from Iván Monagas who reported that the length of the breakwater has now been increased, saying “There have been no works, there have been movements to secure the area. That is what the company has communicated to us ”. Henríquez asserts that they have requested a report from the company in which they detail their activity in the surroundings of the Maspalomas Lighthouse that they will then send on to the Costas department, so that they may analyse if there has been any irregularities.
“Building a new breakwater is an unlawful act, and from the Town Council we will demand accountability, in the event that we discover that one has been incurred.”
Social networks were used to share a video, recorded on March 29, in which a municipal worker is seen on a mechanical digger moving rocks from the breakwater, when another employee, apparently overseeing the job, becomes annoyed when he realises that a young man is filming the moment on his mobile. Other images from the early hours of Monday morning appear to show these machines working on that same area of the beach, where the unauthorised work is alleged to have been carried out.
Locals living in the area for many years say they remember the breakwater being much shorter, and that over the last few decades it has been extended and extended in an attempt to protect bars and restaurants in the shopping centre, but as a consequence have caused more and more damage to the existing conditions of the shoreline. A report, carried out as a result of a proposal to demolish the Oasis shopping centre, which many residents felt had been irregularly constructed, the Costas indicate that these businesses are in fact invading the public domain by at least six meters, and suggests that they should set back from the beach.