Updated 23 June: The Canarian Government has now instructed Granadilla Ayuntamiento to take the necessary measures to ensure the work on the hotel is stopped after the ruling by Costas to suspend the construction licence, and so reduce the financial risk for public funds that any indemnities might involve. Regional minister José Antonio Valbuena, head of the Territorial Planning Dept, has condemned what he called the anomalies and irregularities behind the authorization of the hotel’s construction, saying that he held Granadilla Ayuntamiento and the previous regional Government in particular responsible for them. The developers meanwhile have said they intend to appeal the ruling by Costas.
Updated 22 June: Granadilla Ayuntamiento might say, as it has today, that the work continues because everything is legal, but this evening MITECO, the Spanish Ministerio de Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico (Dept of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge) has ordered a precautionary suspension of works on the La Tejita hotel. The resolution of Costas, part of MITECO, says that although the land on which the works are taking place is not part of the maritime-terrestrial public domain, a still incomplete revision of the coastline could increase its coastal protection rights from 20m to 100m. This is a view that has been expressed time and again by protesters, and it looks now as though nothing will proceed until that revision is completed. If the coastal protections are indeed increased, the hotel would hardly seem to be tenable.
Updated 19 June 2020: A year later, little has changed. Two activists are currently up a crane on site protesting about the works, protests have spilled over onto other islands, and the Canarian Government has demanded that the Coasts Department puts a stop to the project so that the licence can be revised and not proceed in its current form. Meanwhile, environmental federation Ben Magec has denounced that the plans have no sewage treatment system and so waste would end up in the sea … along with many other spills that they are fighting, but today is the deadline for paralyzing the works and no such demand from Costas seems to be forthcoming. Hopefully it won’t be another year before the next update!
Updated 17 June 2019: The Canarian Government has announced that the provincial Costas (Dept of Coasts) has instructed the promoters of the La Tejita hotel, Grupo Viqueira, to stop work within five days (of the instruction on Friday) due to the plans appearing to violate the provisional boundaries of the public coastal area which have been revised. The instruction is the result of a challenge by the pressure group Salvar La Tejita along with the Asociación Tinerfeña de Amigos de la Naturaleza (ATAN), both organizations supplying a technical report which suggests that under the revised coastal boundary, the plans should be themselves revised. Works will have to be suspended, or a fine will be levied, while the Courts hear the latest considerations.
Updated 10 June 2016: As I said on 18 April: “Now that the Cabildo has given the go-ahead, it is for the Canarian Government’s Environment Department and Granadilla Ayuntamiento to submit their own reports; both are expected to approve the project.” And the expectations have been fulfilled, with Diario de Avisos reporting today that the Canarian Government’s Dirección General de Ordenación del Territorio has sent a report to Granadilla Ayuntamiento confirming its full approval. All that’s left now, it seems, is for the full and final formal technical project to be submitted to the council, which is fully behind the development: this is likely to be in the next few months.
Updated 30 April: The environmental action group Plataforma Salvar La Tejita discovered a digger was operating on the site yesterday, and made a denuncia to Granadilla Ayuntamiento that works were being done without a municipal licence. Subsequently the excavators appeared to stop with the appearance of a couple of Policía Local. Despite a major flurry of activity in social media about the incident, however, things are, as always, not as clear-cut as they can be made to appear.
Salvar La Tejita says that the works were clear evidence of the developers trying to remove evidence of “dunes”, the existence of which would involve the Dept of Costas, and make the area a protected one. The fact that the digger stopped working immediately the police arrived is taken as proof that what was being done was illegal and clandestine. The council, however, says that no order was given to stop the works on its behalf, and that although a municipal licence is not yet in place, the project has been completely approved at all stages so far with necessary permits from both the Tenerife Cabildo and the Canarian Government.
Moreover, the council confirmed that the works were to clear accumulated sand blown onto the scrubland, rather than removing “dunes”, and that the land concerned was a privately owned plot, and not a protected area. With apparent support for the developers from the council, Salvar La Tejita is now apparently intent on making a denuncia to the Guardia Civil.
As I said when I started this post in January, the Granadilla coast seems destined to be in the front line of this battle between industry and nature, and between development and simplicity. Logically, though, it is difficult to see the point of continued legal attempts to stop something that has been avowed legal at municipal, insular and regional levels, and which either has all the permits needed, or is in the process of acquiring them.
Updated 18 April: Tourism sources confirm a report in La Opinion today that the hotel is a step closer with the production of a favourable retport from the Tenerife Cabildo. Cabildo Turismo councillor Alberto Bernabé has said that the technicians who carried out the assessment on behalf of the Cabildo have said that the project complies with all legal standards and regulations for 5* hotels, and explicitly confirmed that it does not infringe on protected areas. Now that the Cabildo has given the go-ahead, it is for the Canarian Government’s Environment Department and Granadilla Ayuntamiento to submit their own reports; both are expected to approve the project.
Updated 28 February: Salvar La Tejita says that some 3,500 people joined its protest yesterday in Santa Cruz. Other sources put the number at nearer 1,000, but however many there were, many shouted slogans and carried placards saying “natural spaces should be protected”, “Don’t touch La Tejita beach”, “We don’t want the hotel”, and similar.
The group seemingly concedes that the hotel is not going to encroach on protected land, however, because it argued for what it called “transition zones” between protected reserves and surrounding areas to minimise the impact of such developments, which they say are unsustainable and intrusive when carried out in land adjacent to nature reserves.
Activists say that they are committed to this fight and will continue to make such a noise that the public, political authorities, and commercial enterprises will understand that they are not going to give up until the project is abandoned.
Updated 26 February: The action group Salvar La Tejita has announced a public protest for this Saturday, 27 February at noon in Plaza Weyler in Santa Cruz. The group says that it opposes the planned hotel’s development because it is set to be located next to the iconic Playa de la Tejita and the Montaña Roja nature reserve, which is a site protected at national and regional levels. Again, the arguments flow both ways, the environmental versus the commercial, with the action group saying that the area’s main natural value derives from its unique volcanic landscape and the home it provides for several endemic bird species like the Kentish plover or flora like the Piña de Mar.
The action group’s petition has received some 100,000 signatures in the last few weeks, and its planned protest this Saturday has received support from environmental names now familiar from opposition to the Granadilla megaport and the proposed north-south rail link, including ATAN, Ben Magec, Podemos, Sí se Puede, Izquierda Unida Canaria, and the Green party. On the other side of the argument are those who support the plans, ranging from politicians, to businesses, and to many locals who say that they see employment possibilities and wealth for the area resulting from the proposed luxury tourist accommodation in an area that is, they argue, already under development.
Original post 13 January 2016: The latest controversy involving Granadilla’s coastline is the Ayuntamiento’s plan for a new beach hotel in the Sotavento area of El Médano. The project, La Tejita Luxury Beach Resort, would see a front-line 5* hotel consisting of 136 double rooms and 33 suites set 276m from the beach, and the plans already have the go-ahead at municipal and regional level, with the necessary licences expected to be in place within the next few weeks. Developers Sotavento Tenerife are set to start construction later this year.
When the project was initially approved a year or so ago, Granadilla mayor Jaime González Cejas said that such touristic accommodation was notably lacking on the Granadilla coast. There is vocal disagreement, however, and the campaign to keep the area in its natural state is hotting up, not least in a change.org petition created by Alejo Pérez, which already has over 11,500 signatures. The petition, HERE, calls for the Canarian Government to paralyse the project, which Pérez says is not only unnecessary but also set within a protected area, the Reserva Especial de la Montaña Roja.
Industry and development versus nature and simplicity: the Granadilla coast seems destined to be in the front line of this battle.