For example, urban encroachment chewed through two hectares of coastline every day during the last 18 years. To come by this conclusion they analyzed thousands of satellite photographs taken during the years 1987, 2000 and 2005, covering the first 500 metres from the shore, using the European project, Corine Land Cover.
These figures should be considered ‘kind’ as the building boom didn’t bite the dust to 2008, so the ‘thriving’ period between 2005 and 2008 wasn’t taken into account, but even so…
Every Spanish schoolchild has heard about how in the Middle Ages a hypothetical squirrel could cross Spain, running from branch to branch because it was so densely wooded. We mention this because Greenpeace pointed out that had the urban expansion continued at the rate that it was during the next 124 years, then the same squirrel could traverse the Mediterranean coast jumping from window ledge to window ledge – a sobering thought.
By areas, the autonomous region of Valencia is the worst culprit with 51% of its coastline submerged under brick and cement, followed by Cataluña, 44% and Andalucia with 36%.
At the other end of the scale, Asturias has done most to protect its coastline with only 9% covered by urban development, followed by Cantabria with 14% and the Pais Vasco with only 15%.
Examining the coast on a municipal lever, Castellón takes the biscuit with having allowed a staggering 74% of its natural coastline to disappear, followed by the city of Valencia, 71% and Almería some way back with 39%.
Using heavy sarcasm, Greenpeace came up with an award called the Golden Building Bubble Award, listing candidates in a top ten list of examples not to follow. They are as follow:
Calpe, (Alicante), Calvia (Mallorca), Chiclana de la Frontera (Cádiz), Cubelles, (Barcelona), Oliva (Valencia), Oropesa (Castellón), San Bartolomé de Tirajana (Gran Canarias), San Josep de sa Talaia (Ibiza), Vera (Almería) and Zierbena (Bizkaia).
Chiclana de la Frontera (Cádiz), for example, went from a summer population of 80,000 to 300,000, bless their cotton socks.
So, there you go, yet amazingly some of our politicians are tearing at their clothes in anguish because the Junta de Andalucia has put the stops on urban expansion within the first 500 metres of coastline…