Virgin beach plan anger
Scheme includes constructing car parks, walkways and picnic area
By Alex Watkins ECOLOGISTS have presented objections to a project to restore the environment at El Saladar de Agua Amarga beach, which stands between the runways of Alicante-Elche airport and the sea.
The scheme includes widening a promenade, constructing several asphalted car parks, a picnic area, threemetre high lamp posts and an 800-metre-long walkway along the dune curtain parallel to the sea.
The plan from the national coast department (Costas) affects the last virgin beach in the municipality.
Along with the adjacent salt lakes, the area forms part of the region’s catalogue of protected wetlands and was the first beach in Spain to allow dogs into the sea in the summer.
The friends of the south Alicante wetlands association (AHSA) expressed their ‘disappointment’ after several years of petitioning Costas to take action to stop vehicles crossing the sand dunes, ‘which have really struggled to survive this long’.
They have called for the most drastic measures in the plan to be dropped, including pouring large amounts of sand onto the dunes to regenerate them.
“Not only does it make no sense to include these actions in an environmental regeneration project, their impact would be incompatible with the ecological protection that is supposed to be the point of this project,” asserted an AHSA spokesman.
They called it a ‘step backwards’ compared with the ‘very respectful’ treatment of the sand dunes in Elche and Guardamar del Segura by the previous ministry for the environment.
Under this management, the authorities were restricted to replanting vegetation, installing walkways to the beaches and organising the car parks but not asphalting them.
“Agua Amarga salt marsh and its coastline are environmentally very valuable so any action there must preserve and strengthen this, and it is unacceptable to pour a single cubic metre more of concrete onto the coast, especially in an extremely fragile and relatively small natural space like Playa del Saladar,” argued the ecologists.
They also accused the stateowned tap water supply company, the Mancomunidad de Canales del Taibilla, of repeatedly failing to keep the salt lake flooded.
It is obliged to do so to compensate for the environmental impact of the desalination plant being extended.
Agua Amarga was the first beach in Spain to allow dogs into the sea in the summer