Canaries law now in effect to charge for emergency services for those in difficulty through their own recklessness
Update 5 July: The press is reporting that the first case that could possibly be charged for emergency rescue is that of a 45-year-old windsurfer who needed assistance in El Médano on Tuesday afternoon. According to emergency services sources, the alert was activated by Protección Civil officers in the area after observing the windsurfer experiencing problems, and being unable to get back to land by his own means. Lifeboats and a GES helicopter were called out, and it was the helicopter which rescued him and transferred him to TFS safe and sound.
It transpires that windsurfing is classified as a “risk sport” in Ley 4/2012 de 25 de junio de medidas administrativas y fiscales, and as such this rescue could be the first to be charged under the new legislation. General estimates put the possible costs in the region of €2,500. It will be interesting to see whether any charge is indeed levied. It would strike many, given the multitude of windsurfers who legally practice their chosen sport in El Médano, as particularly unfair if they were to be penalized in this way.
Update 4 July: This law, Ley 4/2012, dated 25 June, came into effect at midnight on Saturday. From now, there are charges for emergency services required for those in difficulty through their own recklessness. The law sets charges in terms of the numbers needing rescue, and so a rescue involving up to 4 victims will have a ceiling of €6,000. In very rare cases where larger groups are involved the ceiling will be set at 8,000 for 5-8 needing rescue, €10,000 for 9-16, and €12,000 for 16+. The law also allows that the charges will be levied against the estate of anyone who dies during their rescue, a measure which the regional Goverment insists complies with the provisions of national fiscal legislation.
Original post 19 March: The Canarian Government is to follow Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque Country and introduce a charge for emergency rescues for those undertaking “risky” sports like surfing, climbing, and paragliding. The so-called Ley de Tasas has already been outlined by the Dirección General de Emergencias y Seguridad and will be put before the regional Parliament in the near future. The fee will be up to a maximum of €6,000.
The law will not only set the charge when a search or rescue is made as a result of the practice of recreational or sporting activities that involve risk or danger, but also when it is through failure to observe warning signs, instructions or bans. It will also be imposed when a rescue is due to activities banned in natural spaces or which lack the required authorization, or when those requiring rescue have not provided themselves with suitable equipment, and for prank emergency calls.