The current Mogán mayor, Bueno, and the timeshare operator, Anfi, are in a bit of a pickle, and are no longer, it appears, feeling bullish about the battle to control Tauro Beach. This mayor, who so very publicly stood in the spotlight to support Anfi’s project, dumping 70,000 tons of sand, illegally extracted from the disputed and occupied territory of Western Sahara, onto the Mogán coastline, using the now partially bankrupt Santana Cazorla Brothers to move it, as one of the first major developments of her administration, which began in 2015, following her CIUCA party’s controversial election to local government, currently under judicial investigation.
Once it started to become apparent that the necessary reports, legally required, had not been properly in place, and that there were serious deficiencies over property ownerships, and in planning, and with the manner and speed with which the start of the project had been green-lighted, resulting in homes being flooded, protests, accusations, and the removal, then arrest, of the regional head of the coastal authority, Mogán town hall quickly distanced themselves from the affair, publicly declaring it to be solely Anfi’s responsibility. Then, shaven-headed thugs, with a JCB digger, tore down 13 beach huts at Tauro, some of which were the sole dwellings of citizen’s unable to afford any type of alternative, and the Mogán mayor again claimed to have no knowledge or involvement, because “we weren’t there”, despite the fact that any such action would require the express permission of her town hall, to be carried out at all. Subsequently, with all work halted, and the public beach fenced off for now nearly six years, these Mogán public servants, already engaged in the process of trying to assume control of the municipality’s most lucrative artificial beaches, Amadores and Puerto Rico, also threw their hat in the ring to take over, from Anfi, the exploitation license of the newly reconditioned Taruo beach. Now the coastal authority have ordered the town council of Mogán to do just that, and take responsibility for reopening Tauro beach, but instead of rushing to seize her prize, the mayor appears to be dragging her feet. Whether it be due to the irreparable environmental damage, or suspected pollutants in the sand, or the legal uncertainty caused by the residents who remain where they have dwelled for decades, or simply a diligence in not becoming further embroiled, it is a little surprising that a mayor, who so prides herself on creatively overcoming legal necessities, has suggested to has decided to patiently wait for Anfi’s supposed financial and legal actions to play out in the courts, before seizing the opportunity to control Tauro Beach. It’s a bit of a mystery, and no good for Mogán.
Reporting: Timon .:. (various sources including La Provincia) – Images: Bård Ove Myhr & LoveGranCanaria
The Directorate for the Demarcation of Coasts (Costas) has summoned the company, Anfi Tauro SA, to sign, on 12 May, the act of reversal regarding their concession for the exploitation of Tauro beach. The exploitation of the cove will thereby return to the Spanish State, requiring Mogán Town Council to take responsibility for reopening the beach to bathers. The Ayuntamiento de Mogán have previously requested, in place of Anfi, the concession to control Tauro Beach seasonal services, (ie: hammocks and parasols), and to take appropriate steps to install a lifeguard service and surveillance on what will become, once more, a public beach.
The signing itself may well occur actually on Tauro beach, officially transferring responsibility to the Mogán Town Council, with a formal act, established by law, cancelling Anfi’s concession to use and exploit this section of coast, like all Spanish coasts, in the public domain. Rafael López Orive, head of the Las Palmas Costas, said on Thursday that he had postponed the signing to ensure that all the pending technical reports have been delivered; commissioned to fully understand the the entire situation on the seabed, following Anfi’s placing of imported aggregates, extracted from Western Sahara, which now cover the original pebble beach and shoreline.
López Orive says that he must simply comply with an order, in 2020, from the Ministry of Ecological Transition, through the resolution of July 27, requesting ratification of the declaration of expiration, for the concession granted in 2015 to the entity Anfi Tauro SA, which orders the Canary Islands Directorate of Demarcation of The Coasts to carry out the act of reversion to the state.
Following the bathymetric (hydrographic) study commissioned by Costas, a pipe leading from the Anfi Tauro desalination plant was discovered, buried three meters under the sand, about which they say they are more than concerned, adding that what is most disturbing is that not only was this pipe well known about, but there is a serious danger of contamination that could be caused by this spill of brine (highly concentrated salt water) under the beach, which is not only a pollutant, but has also physically caused the sands to shift, opening a hole and posing a potential threat to beach users safety.
“The danger posed, by this hole, for bathers can be resolved temporarily by placing a fence, but what you do have to watch out for is this spill,” said the head of the Costas. The overall competence and responsibility for this, he pointed out, is the Canary Islands Agency for the Protection of the Natural Environment.
Sources from the Department of the Natural Environment made clear yesterday that, precisely as a result of the complaint issued from the Demarcation of Coasts, a sanctioning file has been opened and is being processed against Anfi, and they indicated that this company has already had to pay one large fine, for the same outlet, years ago. Likewise, the Agency have urged the company that operates the desalination plant to cease all discharges on Tauro beach.
The previous complaint was processed with accusations of criminality, and this second sanction order is now with the Prosecutor’s Office, with which, according to the Protection Agency, if the company do not comply, stopping all discharges, this new case would likely follow the same judicial procedure, and a further, much greater, fine could be issued.
Although Anfi Tauro continues to deny that the desalination plant is in fact its property, pleading that the facilities really belong to a third party, with whom they have a water supply contract, in the official reports from the Consejo Insular de Aguas (Island Water Board), made available to the Costas, they state clearly that this plant is owned by Anfi Tauro SA.
Added to this, the fact, that Anfi, presenting themselves as the owners of the desalination plant, have been applying to the Consejo de Aguas, for many years, to request the expansion of the facility. The water board clarified yesterday that when an application is processed for a desalination plant, if the discharges are going to be carried out on land, they can grant the authorisations, but, if they are directly or indirectly to be pumped into the sea, then a separate authorisation for it must be sought from the Canary Islands Regional Government.
For her part, sill Mogán mayor, Bueno, said yesterday that the ayuntamiento (town council) do hope to control Tauro Beach, and take over the services, which has been closed for almost six years, and in order that citizens can enjoy it safely, they must resolve security on the beach with an aid station, and take over the work of surveillance. She added, however, that before they can do that, the Costas will have to remove the entire embankment and breakwater, that Anfi illegally placed in front of the old warehouses, primarily because this addition was not included in the development plans originally authorised by the Costas. Anfi have refused to remove the breakwater, alleging their ongoing legal conflict with the Ministry of Ecological Transition, the ministry in charge of the Costas, due to their concession having now been cancelled. Anfi claim that their investment, estimated at €6 million, was made to improve the beach.
This saga looks set to carry on for quite some time. But if we are lucky the battle to control Tauro Beach will conclude on May 12, the responsibility will be returned to the public domain, and the public servants elected to protect the environment and the rights of Mogán’s more than 20,000 residents and the more than 1 million annual visitors who, it is hoped, will begin to return from this summer, with high hopes for the winter season ahead, and bumper years for 2022 and 2023, all things being well.