The new Law that will turn the area of Ses
Salines from a "Reserva Natural" into a Natural
Park should be approved this month by the Balearic Council
("Govern Balear"), according to the island's newspaper
"Diario de Ibiza" on 16th July 2001.
The future Natural Park (if it happens)
will cover the actual protected area containing 11,000 Hectares,
2,220 of them inland (about 350 in Formentera) including the
beaches and littoral, as well as the dunes, the forest by
the salt pans and the surrounding lands and hills.
In Ibiza, it goes from the beach of "Es
Codolar" by the Airport on the West, along the coast
to "Cap des Falcó," "La Canal,"
"Ses Salines beach," "Sa Torre de s'es Portes"
and "Es Cavallet" up to "Sal Rossa" on
the East side, forming more or less a square area. The rest,
8,780 Hectares, are maritime, including the little islands
of "Es Freus" (between Ibiza and Formentera), with
special interest to protect the seabed, the prairies of "Posidonia",
restricting the number of boats that can anchor on it. All
the activities (fishing, diving and other sports) will have
to be reduced and controlled. The massive tourism in the whole
area will have to be limited.
This new Law has been fought for tooth and
nail by the great majority of natives and residents ever since
the mid-1970s when, for the first time on the Island, different
groups of people (Artists, Intellectuals, Architects, Students,
Ecologists, Ornithologists, etc.) got together, under the
watchwords "Salvem Ses Salines" (Let's save Ses
Salines) to demand more effective protection for these unique
areas of Ibiza and Formenterra.
This initiative had, from the beginning,
total support and sympathy from the people. It was the first
local ecological action and also the seeds for a deeper and
stronger ecological feeling that, later on, formed new NGO's
and the local "Green" political parties. The task
for the local Ecology started in Ses Salines and still goes
To try to understand better what's going
on, we have to consider a little bit of recent local history:
In1983, the Balearic Islands were officially proclaimed the "Comunitat Autònoma de Ses Illas Balears", i.e. an autonomous political entity within Spain. The same
year, the first "Govern Balear" (Balearic Council)
was created and the powerful conservative party "Partido
Popular" (P.P.) won the election. The first President
to be nominated was Gabriel Cañellas Fons from Mallorca,
re-elected four years later in 1987.
The President's wife and her family (the
"Salas" family) own the salt industry in both Ibiza
and Formentera under the name of "Salinera Española
S.A." (Apart from the historical rights of the people
of Ibiza and Formentera). They are also the proprietors of
all the salt pans and most of the land in the neighbourhood,
with almost a hundred houses already built on it (most without
a legal licence) and exploited by the same family.
"Ibifor" is another of the family's
companies, including all the business and services (bars,
restaurants, rent of sunbeds, umbrellas, pedal boats, sailing
boats, etc.) on the beaches of "Ses Salines" and
"Es Cavallet," according to "El País"
on February 26th 2000).
At the time, the whole area was considered
an "Area Natural de Especial Interes" (ANEI) and
it had (in theory) a reasonable amount of ecological protection,
which limited the building and any changes on it. This situation
did not please the president, Mr Cañellas and his wife,
the owners of the land.
In 1990 Cañellas being President
of the Balearic Council, presented plans for his own companies,
represented by him, in his own bureau at the Balearic Parliament
(and obviously his private office) for a new massive urbanisation
(hotel and blocks of apartments) by Ses Salines beach. As
it was against the laws, the urbanisation couldn't be approved
without changing them.
In 1991 his next step was to force his own
political party (P.P.) to change the old law and reduce the
amount of protection for the area, so he could build whatever
he wanted to. ("El País," 26th February 2000).
But unexpected factors (unexpected only
by them) came onto the scene. Well-kept secrets began to emerge
and the lid was blown off the cover-up. An ugly and dirty
multi-million peseta affair that happened on the island of
Mallorca, known as "Soller's Tunnel Case" couldn't
be disguised any longer by the President and part of his team
and they all ended up in the Tribunals. That kept the President
and his lawyers occupied for a while. Mr President had to
resign and the vice-president took his place. It was the only
way that he could be taken to the Courts and, against his
will, he left the government, pushed out by the Madrid leaders
of his own political party.
The sentence of the Tribunal, as everybody
knows, proved and declared Mr Gabriel Cañellas Fons
(ex president of the first autonomic government) guilty of
all the charges that he was accused of. The only reason why
our "dear" ex president didn't used the prisoner's
pyjamas was because by the time he was judged, the charges
were worn out, like the date on an old can of soup. (After
all, they are not that stupid).
By then, the Central Socialist Government
in Madrid, led at the time by Felipe Gonzalez, was alerted
by the local political opposition of the Cañellas'
intentions, so they rushed through a new law, with much more
severe restrictions for the area and in 1995 it was approved
by the Spanish Congress. This was the law which proclaims
Ses Salines as a "Reserva Natural," the highest
level of protection (there again, in theory) just below that
of a Natural Park.
Meanwhile, in the Balearic Islands, the
Conservative Party (P.P.) was looking for a new leader, a
new face after the "fiasco" of the first President.
They tried with a few, until they decided on a young, smart
man, Jaume Matas, one of the "dolphins" of Cañellas
who was not involved in the Soller's Tunnel affair.
He was the candidate and he won the elections
for the "Govern Balear" in 1995. Also, by then,
the "Partido Popular" won, for the first time, the
elections for the Spanish Government in Madrid. The situation
was then ideal for Cañellas' plans of urbanising Ses
For the first time in the history of our
democracy, the local government "Consell Insular"
the provincial government "Govern Balear" and the
central government "Cortes Españolas" in
Madrid were all in their hands.
It was then when Jaume Matas, as President
of the Balearic Council, demanded even more autonomy from
Madrid. They went to Court to demand control of the entire
coastline and the Natural Reserves and derogated the socialist
laws. It was obvious that they had much to gain by this move.
But, there again, something unexpected happened.
In 1999, Jaume Matas and his party, the "P.P," lost
the Autonomic Elections against a coalition of the Socialists,
the Green and Left Parties under the name of "Pacte de
Progrés". Francesc Antich was nominated President
of the "Govern Balear," Pilar Costa for the "Consell
For the first time in our Democracy, the
local and the provincial Governments were not under the control
of the Conservative Party. Not so in Madrid, where the "P.P."
won the Spanish Elections for the second time and this time
with an absolute majority.
Nevertheless, in Madrid's High Courts, the
demands of more autonomy for the Balearic Islands were accepted
and the sentence gave to the Balearic Council full control
over decisions about the land.
This is when the "Govern Balear"
first developed the Provincial Law for a Natural Park in Ses
Salines and also the P.O.R.N. (Plan de Ordenación de
los Recursos Naturales) for a Natural Park in Cala D'Hort,
which has already been approved.
Bad news for some! To lose control of certain
areas means losing a lot of "Euros" (this is what
it is all about). What can we do? Don't forget that our smart
young Jaume Matas has now been ousted from local office, and
we desperately need a charismatic, wise and very down-to-earth
Minister for the Environment.
Meanwhile, Matas, the "ex" Balearic
president, was nominated Minister of the Environment for the
Spanish "P.P." Government and is now the Maximum
Authority for the Environment in Spain.
I was praying last week and I'll pray again:
To be continued next week.
José P Ribas