Golf Course Saturation on the Costa Brava
Yet another new golf course is planned for the Costa Brava. The proposed new
Royal Victory Golf course would occupy part of the Salenys, a Gavarres
biological reserve at Santa Cristina d'Aro. According to the conservation group Associació
de Naturalistes de Girona (ANG), the course would affect one million square
metres of Mediterranean forest and meadows. Half of this surface would be
dedicated to the golf course, 35,000 m² would be devoted to residences and
hotel facilities, 10,000 m² to roads and the remaining land to green zones. The
ANG has warned the City council that nearly half of the affected land is
included in the area of Protection of Spaces of Natural Interest (PEIN) of the
Gavarres. The ANG emphasizes that the Salenys is "the last remaining
biological corridor linking the Gavarres and Cadiretes, since the construction
of the C-65 road". The conservation group suspect links between the
government and Russian industralists promoting the project, with the golf course
being the focal point for further housing estate developments. Santa Cristina
d'Aro already has two 18 hole golf courses plus a pitch and putt course to serve
a population of 3,000, a level of saturation matched only by the nearby coastal
resort of Pals.
Phoenician archaeology stops l'Escala golf course - for now
The decision to allow the development of the Empúries golf course, hotel and
residential complex at l'Escala (Girona) has been deferred after the discovery
of four archaeological sites, three of which have already been excavated. The
promoter, Vilanera 94, SL, has been asked to modify the project in order to
preserve the prehistoric remains. The local authorities believe the project will
encourage 'quality tourism' whereas opponents argue that the planned hotel and
residential complex does not qualify as a 'rustic' development allowed under the
regional land use plan.
Second Home Dossier
One in three Barcelona families now have a second home
There are more than one million second homes owned by Catalonia's middle class,
with 42% concentrated along the coast. One third of the second homes are located
within Barcelona's own metropolitan region. Second homes owned by the lower
socio-economic groups tend to lie futher afield, a fact explained by the massive
immigration that occurred in the region in the 1960s and 70s. People who arrived
in Barcelona more than thirty years ago have, in many cases, obtained second
homes in their towns of origin as a result of the death of relatives. The
middle-class tends to frequent the coastal belt. Second home owners in the
Pyrenees and Pre-Pryenees tend to fall within the highest socio-economic
The high index of secondary residences registered in Catalonia has advantages
and disadvantages. The second homes create jobs in the construction industry,
are an investment, a traditional refuge for money in times of economic crisis.
In many cases, following counter-urbanisation trends, the second home is now
becoming the primary residence. The disadvantages lie in their dehumanising
effect upon local communities, their impact upon the landscape and the amount of
space they occupy in relation to their social use.
Cerdanya a zone of third or fourth homes
The proximity of Cerdanya to Barcelona - less than two hours by car - and
attractive natural surroundings have turned Cerdanya into the holiday
destination of thousands of families of the metropolitan area. In the last
decade 8,000 second homes have been constructed in the area. In municipalities
such as Alp, Bolvir or Llívia, second home constructions represent more of 90%
of the total. For much of the year, these towns remain almost deserted since
most of the houses are used as third or fourth residences. Most of the families
who buy an apartment in Ripollès or Cerdanya already have a second home on the
Second residences are particularly concentrated along the Costa Brava.
Palafrugell has 19,200 inhabitants in winter and more than 75,000 in summer. The
mayor, Frederic Suñer, considers that the town supports "with naturalness
and satisfaction" such a seasonal demographic explosion. He argues that the
second homes help sustain the local economy, providing employment for the
construction industry. New city-planning regulations tend to restrict the
expansion of second residences, limiting the creation of new urban zones. In
this context, the territorial commission of Urbanisme de Girona deferred a
Vilanant Council project for the construction of more than 140 houses in an area
of 100 hectares. The Vilanant census area has only 310 inhabitants.
Barcelona second homes grow on the Costa Daurada
The Daurada coast has registered strong growth in the construction of second
homes in the last two years. The improvement in communications and the avalanche
of investments in the leisure industry, including new golf courses and the Port
Aventura theme park have attracted buyers from Barcelona who have traditionally
looked north to the Costa Brava for their weekend home. Prices are an incentive.
Homes on the Daurada coast are between 25% and a 30% lower than those on the
The effects of second homes on rural communities
Béixecs is a small town at the foot of the Cadí mountain range, an idyllic
spot in summer and a very difficult place to live in winter. Located in the
municipality of Montellà-Martinet, in Cerdanya, it still has a 'sky-line'
similar to that of 50 years ago, when it first began to suffer the effects of
emigration. This summer, the neighbours cleaned and renovated the old Romanic
church and side streets. In winter, Béixecs is virtually deserted. Some houses
have been renovated, but the townscape has little in common with the many
gentrified villages such as Alp, Martinet and Bellver where numerous estates of
doubtful neorustic architecture have been constructed. Architecturally, Béixecs
is one of the few positive examples of the phenomenon of second homes.
Many rural villages now have homes that are inhabited only during the
weekends. The disadvantage is that they become dehumanised, losing services such
as shops, schools and public transport. They are left with an increasingly
ageing population as the young are forced to leave, unable to afford the high
house prices. Social changes in the village cause conflict as urbanites take
over the village institutions and the local inn converts to a restaurant (open
weekends only) to cater to the new money.
This second home reality is a dream-turned-nightmare for Ildefons Cerdà who
designed Barcelona's Eixample with the aim of urbanising the countryside to
create rural space in the city.
Objections to the Maresme desalination plant
Agreement has been reached with the Catalan Agència of l'Aigua to provide water
desalted in the Blanes desalination plant to eleven Maresme towns. Fifteen
percent of the estimated 30 million euros investment will be met by an increase
in water bills. "It is unjust and shameful that citizens must pay a water
tax to create the desalination plant and in addition must pay for water supplied
by the water-treatment plant at Palafolls", explained Norbert Peláez, of
the Partido Popular of Pineda de Mar.
Anoia river pollution creates double-sexed carp
Fish in the Anoia river are being sexually altered by estrogen pollution
originating from industries located along the river. A team of investigators
from the Superior Council of Investigaciones Científicas (SCIC) analyzed the
water quality of the rivers Anoia and Cardener (tributary of the Llobregat), and
took samples from 246 fish (130 males and 116 females). Seven of these showed
signs of intersexuality. In all the cases, the sexual alterations occurred in
male fish found in the Anoia. The male fish maintains masculine genital organs,
but develops ovaries and displays sexual organ atrophy or partial destruction,
which prevents it from reproducing.
This is the first time that this type of deformity has been seen in Spain.
The polluting agents are basically of industrial origin (alquilfenoles) coming
from the leather industry which uses them to remove grease from the skins. Other
sources are from sewage water containing feminine sexual hormones, either
natural (progesterone or estradiol) or synthetic, (the pill contraceptive). The
scientists have also found high levels of a synthetic hormone
(dietiletilbestrol) in the river water. Dietiletilbestrol contains estrogen and
is being used illegally to fatten pigs and cattle.
Industrial Estates invade Penedès Wine Region
In Penedès, the Catalan wine producing region, the 29 existing industrial
estates are about to double in number, and the construction of the high speed
rail link appears to be creating unstoppable expansion. A spokesperson for
the Ecological pressure groups in the area argues that the proliferation of
industrial estates represents "an enormous loss of prestige for the region
of the Penedès" and adds that "what it is happening here would be
unthinkable in other great and prestigious viticulture areas of the world, like
Burgundy, in France, or the Napa Valley in California". Penedès is the
Barcelona region with the most agricultural land and the cheapest vacant plots
zoned for urbanisation.
Poor Summer Weather Hits Farmers
Heavy rain affected the vegetable zone of the Llobregat delta and destroyed
most of the tomato, watermelon and peppers that are cultivated in Gavà, El
Prat, Sant Boi and Viladecans. In Gavà the damage was very serious, resulting
in fragile vegetable losses of 90%.
Rain, high humidity and a lack of sun have seriously affected the apple
harvest, with the total loss of production on some farms. The wet weather has
brought some benefits. Farmers growing maize and grapes have seen a bumper
harvest this year.
Hail storms in July and August have led falls of up to 70% in the sweet fruit
harvest (apples, pears and peaches). Altogether, it is calculated that 48,788
tons of sweet fruit were lost. The fruit storage companies in Lleida are looking
to France to stock their refridgerated warehouses.
Good Neighbours Pilot Scheme for Ciutat Vella
A 'Good Neighbours' project financed with 180,000 euros by the European Union
will run simultaneously in Barcelona, Birmingham, Lyon, Milan and Rotterdam this
winter. It is aimed at supporting the single elderly living in the inner city
and is a test run for wider support in this field.
Government closes 21 polluting pig farms
Pig farms without plans to eliminate their slurry that is contaminating
underground water reserves have been closed. The councillor of the
Department of the Environment, Ramon Espadaler, closed 21 Catalan pig operations
in the Girona region which have not presented their clean-up plans on time. This
is the first time that the Government has acted in this way and other closures
are expected shortly.
Sant Andreu Cultural Centre located in old Fabra and Coats
A 3,000 m² church library and conference hall investment will convert the
interior of the Sant Andreu former Fabra and Coats factory into a cultural
centre. In addition, it will host the Artistic Centre for Scenic Art
Professionals. The land where the old factory is located, between Otger, Balari
and Jovany streets, was acquired by the City council in 1987.
Private Hospitals and Clinics Invest 300 million euros in
Barcelona has become the health care capital of Spain and private health care is
booming in the La Salud medical cluster. This cluster is located between the
city's residential zones and the private schools lining the Collserola
foothills. Health tourism is a growing trend, promoted by the Barcelona Tourism
Department. Private hospitals and clinics are supported by strong domestic
demand, with 24% of Catalans paying health insurance, compared to the Spanish
average of 11%. The American company Teneth has invested one hundred million
euros in developing the Teknon Medical Centre, a project that began in 1994 and
which it hopes to complete in January 2003. Teknon selected Barcelona because of
the help it received from the government and the tradition of private and
specialised health care in the city. Citigroup, another American organisation,
has bought the General hospital of Catalunya, where it has invested twelve
million euros and will put in an additional 36 million over the next five years.
Jorge Flat, medical director of a Barcelona hospital devoted exclusively to
plastic surgery, calculates that nearly 30% of his patients come from outside
Catalonia, 12% of whom are foreign clients. The Barraquer eye clinic calculates
that between 20 and 30% of its patients are from other countries.
Metro Link between Barcelona and Badalona to open
A new Metro line connecting Barcelona and Badalona will be opened next Tuesday.
The connection is part of the Plan Infraestructuras Director (PDI), that
involves the extension of the metro network between 2001 and 2010 with 67 new
stations and 64 kilometres of track. Work in progress includes the future
station for the Universal Forum of Cultures that will be ready next year. Once
completed, the Barcelona metro network will extend to 83.6 kilometres of track
and 115 stations, far short of Madrid's network, that has 176 kilometres of line
and 202 stations.
Fluvianàutic Urbanisation Fight
The Conservation group Salvem platform l'Empordà is fighting the
proposed River Fluvia urbanisation project in Sant Pere Pescador. They have
draped a 200 metre protest banner over the skeleton of a partly completed
building at the mouth of the river.
The Saturated City
The selling of land to private developers to pay for three new large
infrastructure projects will increase city density, worsen traffic congestion
and lead to property speculation.
The three projects are the high-speed rail network stations of Sants and
Sagrera and the construction of a law court 'city', between Barcelona and
l'Hospitalet. Building density is being doubled or tripled in the Sants and
l'Hospitalet districts through the selling-off of public land to finance
development costs. Building density increases of 20% at Sagrera will be
compensated by the creation of a large park that will help unify a zone
currently cut into three isolated districts by existing surface rail
The new railway facilities at Sants station will triple the building density
with the construction of a large lobby, a hotel, offices and shops. Another
22,000 square metres in the surrounding area will be allocated to further
tertiary development. The line will be covered in a section where it passes
through dense residential suburbs, some compensation for worried neighbours.
The 17 new Barcelona law courts to be constructed on the border with
l'Hospitalet will be designed by the British architect David Chipperfield. The
plan for the zone fixes the construction coefficient index at 3.67 square metres
built for each square metre of land. This is a high density for Barcelona
considering that the Olympic Village index is 1 m², and the Eixample - one of
the densest districts of the city - is 2 m².
The Neighbourhoods Association of Barcelona (FAVB) is opposing the three
projects, on the grounds that they encourage property speculation.
Life after Ronda de Mig tunnel
The enclosure of the Ronda de Mig inner ring road has led to huge increases in
house prices in the areas that have benefited most from the longest urban
tunnelling project in Europe. "We bought our home for twelve million
pesetas. Now, its worth not less than 50. But, of course, we do not want to
sell." This is a typical response from neighbours enjoying the fresh air,
quiet streets and new pedestrianised zones laid above the tunnel. The losers
include local businesses that have lost much trade during the ten years of
construction, and who now have great difficulty in getting access to their
businesses for loading and unloading.
Zaragoza set to become the main logistics centre for
PLAZA, a technological and industrial complex in Zaragoza based on a model of
infrastructure connectivity involving air, road and rail networks, may make
Zaragoza the logistics capital of southern Europe. The new high speed rail
network will place the zone within 75 minutes from Madrid and 60 from Barcelona.
The zone is ten times the size of Catalonia's three large logistic centres: the
Zone of Aprovisionamiento Logistico (ZAL), (665,000 m²); the adjoining area of
Zona Franca (180,000 m²), and Valls (Tarragona) (120,000 m²). Important
multinational companies have already chosen Zaragoza as their storage and
distribution centre, including the Zara clothes chain.
Zaragoza is best known as the location of the giant Opel car plant.
There were 71,000 more lightning bolts this summer compared to last year, with a
total of 108,681 in July and August. Nine thousand strikes can occur in a
single storm. If they hit an electricity line, disconnection is automatic,
followed by reconnection a few minutes later if no damage has occurred.
Lightning is good business for suppliers of Sky television connections. The
brightness of the flash destroys a sensor located in the centre of the satellite
dish, which must then be replaced. It is bad business for those with unsaved
work on their computers.
El Raval Rambla slow to take off
Two years after its opening, commercial activity has yet to take off in the El
Raval Rambla. Many premises are closed and a large number of shops are only for
immigrants living in the zone. Only twenty commercial licences have been issued
for the zone so far. Retailers say the Rambla is too wide to encourage shopping.
The transfer of university student accommodation to the zone (some 10% of
properties are being converted for this purpose) may help correct the situation
in the future.
Public and private sectors have invested 2,800 million euros
in the regeneration of the Ciutat Vella
According to the Mayor of Barcelona, the transformation of Barcelona's historic
centre over the last 14 years has been the world's most effective example of
inner city regeneration. The changes have been achieved through the cumulative
effects of many small regeneration schemes rather than one large single project,
and fit the Barcelona model of urban regeneration in the way they have
emphasised the building of communities rather than the destruction of existing
ones. Not a single neighbour has been forced to leave the area during this
period of renewal.
Summary of the changes:
Ten hectares of new public space have been created
2,700 new council houses built
30,000 council houses improved
37 new public recreational areas opened
12 new streets created
89% of existing streets transformed through the introduction of
pedestrianisation, installation of fibre optic cables, pneumatic waste disposal
8% of buildings renewed
43 new sports, education, university, cultural and health facilities opened
Preservation of buildings of cultural heritage
The organisation that spearheaded the transformation process, Procivesa,
(Promoció Ciutat Vella, SA), has now been wound-up, and a new company, Foment
de Ciutat Vella, SA, established with the same aims and shareholders. Mayor Clos
emphasized that, thanks to the transformation, Barcelona avoided the creation of
inner city ghettos that were a real threat to public safety during the 1980s.
The inner city has been transformed into a tourist and commercial district with
activity throughout the day. The area is not deserted at night or at weekends,
like so many British or American inner city zones. The risk of ghettos is still
there however, with very strong immigration movements into the district's
central areas in the last two years. The numbers of immigrants in the district
in 1988 were barely measureable. Today they comprise 36% of the inner city
The preservation of buildings of cultural value and the opening up of small
public garden zones with seating and play areas has been an underlying but
critical aspect of the transformation process, along with the construction of a
strong cultural axis running through the heart of El Raval to the Opera House on
the Rambla. This axis includes:
A new Humanities university (under construction)
Contemporary Art museum
Cultural and exhibition centre
University halls of residence
Catalan National Library
Other museums and exhibition space
Catalan textile company in trouble
The textile company Can Feu has suspended payments to creditors, the result of
fierce competition from Asian countries for a shrinking market. The
company has halved its workforce and is fighting back with highly specialised
products and the use of the latest technology machinery.
Spain receives the most EU aid
Spain was the greater beneficiary of EU funding in 2001, receiving 20% of the
total. Luxembourg, Holland, Sweden and Germany are net contributors to the EU
budget whereas Spain and the other countries are net beneficiaries.
SEAT Car Plant transfers production to Bratislava
Ten percent of Ibiza car production (100 a day) will be transferred from
Barcelona to the Volkswagen Slovakian plant where the labour costs are fifth of
those of SEAT. This will result in the loss of 500 direct and 5,000 indirect
jobs in the Barcelona area, and puts the long term future of the Barcelona SEAT
plant in doubt. The Martorell factory has an index of productivity 1 hour per
car below the average of the Volkswagen group. The decision resulted from the
refusal of workers at the SEAT plant to work 5 more days in October.
The Causes of the 1962 Flood Tragedy
The intensity of the storm - 6 litres a minute in Sabadell - the size of
its area, its night timing, the impermeable effects of rapid urbanisation, the
lack of vegetation and absorbent earth after four months of intense drought, the
nature of the relief that speeded the water down narrow valleys and steep
gradients dropping 500 metres in a few kilometres, large boulders, cars and
trees carried by the flood waters, narrow bridge arches that became dams, the
absence of planning regulations during the Franco era: all key factors leading
to the catastrophic floods that killed over 700 people in El Vallés, north of
Barcelona. The storm did not have a strange origin. Warm humid air meeting cold
air at altitude is relatively common in Catalunya in Autumn, and caused the June
2000 floods (with 6 deaths). What really made it exceptional was the intensity
and the size of the affected area: practically all the internal river basins of
the region. Small seasonal streams such as the Ripoll for a time transported
more water than the Ebro, (over 1,000 cubic metres per second). Catalunya has
experienced a further five episodes of rain since 1962 with a similar intensity
and size (in 1971, 1977, 1982, 1983 and 2000), without the same drastic effects.
Many victims in 1962 were asleep in shanty homes constructed on the river banks
or on the dry beds of the rivers and no warning systems existed.
27 September 1962 Flood Deaths
Forty years after the 1962 floods, the exact number of dead in El Vallés is
still not known although it is estimated that 351 people died and a further 372
disappeared. The reason for the uncertainty is the timing of the floods - at
night - and the nature of the victims - mainly poor immigrants living in shanty
dwellings or caravans next to, or on the dry river beds.
Changing Tourism: the camping market
Only 9 out of 74 camp sites in the Tarragona area currently remain open
during the winter, but great efforts have been made to extend the camping
season. The main changes involve the modernization of sites and improvement in
quality, with larger camping plots and the conversion of caravans to permanent
bungalows. An example of this conversion is the Tamarit Camping Park de
Tarragona. The Councillor for Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Antoni Subirà,
opened its new facilities yesterday. These include two hundred new bungalows.
The aim is to appeal to customers seeking cultural tourism, with greater
spending power and who will use the camp site restaurants and supermarkets.
Camp site bungalows are the new camping market trend and now comprise 10
percent of total camp site accommodation. "This phenomenon is a product of
a sector where it has been necessary to adapt to market demands for more comfort
and better quality", stressed the manager of the Patronat de Turisme of the
Daurada Coast. Bungalows clearly have more appeal than a tent for many people
looking to enjoy a week's stay during a Tarragona winter.
Changing Shopping Patterns in
The growth of large commercial centres in the Blanes suburbs has changed
shopping patterns in the town centre. According to a study undertaken by the
Blanes City Council, 40 percent of shoppers no longer use town centre retailers.
The retailers are fighting back with offers of free parking, leisure activities
and free gifts.
Lifts to be installed in some of the worst tower blocks
Adigsa, the government company in charge of managing the degraded tower blocks
constructed during the Franco years has been given the go ahead to install lifts
by the end of the year. A 50% subsidy is available but the main difficulty is
the ability of tenants on low incomes to raise the rest of the money required.
Cultural Tourism in Horta and El Vendrell
The Picasso Centre in Horta de Sant Joan has received 3,000 visitors this
summer, a 10% increase on last year. Numbers visiting the Archaeological Museum,
Guimerà Angel and the Pau Casals house have decreased by 30%, however, due to
new admission charges. The Ecomuseum dels Ports has managed to attract 1,500
visitors, in its first season of opening. The poor summer weather has been a
factor in driving beach tourists to other attractions.
New glass geriatric hospital to be Forum 2004 hotel
The new geriatric hospital building is planned to be opened in Poblenou in 2004
with 280 places for the elderly with physical diseases or psychiatric disorders.
The Municipal Geriatric Hospital, located in the district of Bonanova, will then
be closed. The city council has offered public aid to companies in the private
sector that are interested in installing services of a social-health character
in the area. In May 2004, the hospital will first serve as a hotel for the
Universal Forum of Cultures delegates. This double function-usage of buildings
specifically constructed for international events follows the pattern of
Barcelona's model of urban regeneration seen at the Olympic Games, 1992, with
the construction of the Olympic Village. This functioned first as athlete
accommodation, and afterwards as affordable quality accommodation to help solve
the housing shortage in the city.
The architect Lluís Clotet claims the building will "neither seem a
hospital nor a hotel". The building, with a budget of 22 million euros
(3,660 million pesetas), will be five storeys high (28 metres) located at the
junction of Llull and Prim streets. It will share street space with an 18-storey
office block and adjoin a planned university campus of 150,000 square metres.
The architects will use glass as the main construction effect. Rooms will offer
a panoramic street view on all sides giving, according to the architect, a
Wettest Summer since 1977
The heaviest precipitation fell on 31 July in Montgat (248 litres/m²) and other
locations in the Maresme. Record figures over two months include Gisclareny (448
litres), Olot (425), Núria (419) and the Vall d'en Bas (379). In Badalona,
where the summer average is 68 litres, 282 litres were recorded. The south and
west of Catalunya saw drought conditions, however. In the Conca de Barberà and
the Pla d'Urgell only 60% of the average rainfall was received. Drought
restrictions are possible since water reserves in the Llobregat river basin
stand at 50%, and 80% for the river Ter.
Hotel occupancy on Costa Brava falls by 5 percent
Hotel occupancy on the Costa Brava during the first fortnight of September fell
by 5% with respect to last year. The percentage occupancy in these two weeks was
72% on the coast (77.5 % in 2001 and 80.5 % in 2000). The lowest figures were
registered in the northern Costa Brava hotels, with a percentage of 65%. The
hotel chain Costa Brava Green Hotels will now incorporate small hotels
with the creation of the quality mark Petits Grans Hotels. This new hotel
nucleus will be formed by 25 establishments of less than 12 rooms.
Closure of the Sant Adrià power station generator
The Department of the Environment has ordered the closure of the Sant Adrià
power station's oil-fired generator before the end of October. An investigation
was carried out after two days of "black rain" in Sant Adrià in early
September. The first polluting episode occurred in June 2000. More than 1,000
residents of Badalona complained then of damaged clothes and cars. In September
last year, the "black rain" incident was repeated and at that stage
the government threatened the closure of the generator, should a further
Costa Brava Petits Grans Hotels promote
A chain of 25 small hotels on the Costa Brava have adopted a green charter mark Petits
Grans Hotels to promote quality tourism. The hotels are located in the
regions of the Alt and Baix Empordà, Gironès, Garrotxa and Cerdanya. The
majority are located in zones of architectural, cultural or landscape interest.
The hotels have decided to coordinate their efforts to obtain greater
competitiveness in the market. The members of Petits Grans Hotels will
now plan a marketing campaign.
August tourist numbers increased by 3.7% in Spain and by 19%
Catalonia was Spain's most popular tourist destination in August, receiving 2.2
million visitors, over a third of the total number of 7.8 million. This
represents an interannual growth of 32%, with 530,000 more tourists than in
August 2001. Annually, Catalonia saw growth of 19%, with 1.4 million more
visitors than last year. Between January and August 55.8 million people visited
Spain, which represents a 3.7% (or 2 million) increase on last year. Of these,
36.2 million were tourists, representing an increase of 2.3%. Balance of
payments data from the Bank of Spain show an important reduction in income
coming from tourism. The United Kingdom continues being the first country of
tourist origin, with 9.8 million in the first eight months of the year, 1.8%
more than in 2001. France has taken second place from Germany with 6.1 million
tourists, an increase of 20%. The number of German tourists fell by 7% in August
and Americans by 21%. It is the strong decline in tourists from Germany and the
U.S.A. that explains the poor state of the service sector in the Balearics,
where the number of tourists has fallen by 7%, one million less; in the Canary
Islands where it has fallen by 5%, 340,000 less, and in Madrid where a fall of
6.4% has been registered. Price increases of up to 40% in hotels and restaurants
are being held partly to blame by the government.
SEAT threatens to move production of Ibiza cars to
The Barcelona SEAT car plant at Martorell threatens to transfer part of the
production of Ibiza cars to Bratislava (Slovakia). The threat comes after unions
at the plant refused to work five more days in October to meet increasing
A wall of water in a recently canalized river carries away
A heavy shower of 87 litres/m² lasting an hour in Arenys de Munt has put the
success of recent flood aleviation schemes in doubt. The floods cut the N-11
road and forced the closure of the RENFE railway line. Neighbours said it was
the worst flood they had ever seen, with Rial de Pau and Sant Pere de Arenys
streets two of the worst affected. Montse Tomás, a resident of Ral street has
now seen his house flooded three times in two years. The canalized stretch of
the Rial del Bareu was inundated and in an uncanalized section, water carried
away five cars and a house. The C-61 road connecting Arenys de Mar and Arenys de
Munt was impassable.The heavy shower occurred between seven and the eight
o'clock in the evening and was highly localised, falling between
Sant Pol and Caldes d'Estrac.
Fight to save Cap Ras
More than 300 people marched in Llançà yesterday in protest at plans to
develop the unspoilt pine woodland on the coast at Cap Ras. The march was
organised by the conservation groups Salvem CAP Ras and Salvem
Platform l'Empordà. Plans include a tourist hotel complex and 35 villas. A
spokesperson for Salvem Platform l'Empordà claims that Cap Ras falls
within the zone of special protection in the revised General Llançà Urban
New Port for Blanes?
Fifty boats blockaded Blanes bay for one hour yesterday to demand a new port.
Fishermen, representatives of tourist cruise companies and owners of
recreational boats are demanding the urgent extension of the port of Blanes,
unchanged since construction 88 years ago. The protestors propose the
construction of a new harbour entrance with the better distribution of moorings
to separate fishing from recreational boats. The fishermen say they do not have
sufficient space to work with the present facilities and have to use other ports
such as Palamós. Fishing could disappear in Blanes altogether if the wharf is
not extended, they say. The port extension would include a large promenade and
the creation of two beaches either side. The zone would be closed to private
vehicles. The extension to the port would allow tourist cruisers to embark and
disembark from the quay, rather than from the beach as they do now.
Six thousand euros to protect Pinya de Rosa
The environmental group Salvem Pinya de Rosa have collected six thousand
euros in an art auction in Blanes. The money will be used to finance legal
action to preserve Pinya de Rosa. The present owners of the zone want to build a
residential estate with three hundred villas and a tourist hotel.
Diagonal Mar Park: a social and physical barrier
The Park at Diagonal Mar is officially opened today, being part of the ambitious
transformation of the city area close to the river Besòs. The construction of a
large park at the end of the Diagonal was included in Ildefons Cerdà's original
plan of Barcelona drawn up in 1859. It has taken a century and a half to become
a reality. The green zone has been constructed on land formerly occupied by the
metal foundry Macosa, with a large number of railway sidings. The park
has been financed by the real estate company Hines American, which has
constructed 1,600 apartments. The location of the buildings - in the interior of
the park - creates a semi-private atmosphere and has generated distrust
amongst neighbouring communities. The new park is surrounded by large fences
that give an off-putting private feel to the zone. At night, when the gates are
locked, the park becomes a barrier, effectively sealing off access to the sea
for inland communities.
"Unsustainable growth endangers our natural
heritage"(Mayor of Bisbal)
A new luxury urbanisation at Jafra, the C-252 road extension, the refuse dump at
Vacamorta, the reconversion of the port of Sant Feliu into a marina, the new
C-31 road between Palamós and Palafrugell: all examples, according to the
Bisbal mayor, of a model of limitless growth that damages the environment and
"lines the pockets of a few speculators". On the other hand, the
mayor of Palamós, Jordi Pallí, believes that "the progress is not bad in
itself but it must be reasonable. Roads in our area must improve because they
are needed for our own population".
Sixty New Projects threaten the Girona environment
New leisure and industrial projects in the Girona region are generating
increasing protests from environmentalists. Concerns about damage to the natural
environment and unsustainable growth have led to the formation of new opposition
movements including the Salvem platform l'Empordà inAlt Empordà
and Assemblea Socio-Ambiental in Baix Empordà. The latter organisation
has drawn up a map of environmental blackspots that includes more than 60 new
projects, activities, equipment or urbanized zones that are environmentally
Mitasa Textile Company to close two plants
Another Catalan emblematic textile company, Mitasa, is to close its two
factories at Castellar de N'Hug and Alfarràs. The company, one of the first
staple fibres companies in Spain, has been in crisis for years. Its products are
largely unspecialized that have not been able to resist the competition from
Deltebre storks begin their autumn migration
The storks are enroute in search of warmer wintering quarters, which gives an
excellent opportunity to see them in the Ebro delta. This emblematic bird
usually stops in the Delta to rest and to feed during its migration. It is easy
to see it in the rice fields and even sometimes within urban areas. Scores of
other species, like the fish eagle, also use the Delta as a temporary resting
place during their migration at this time of the year.
Diagonal Mar Park fences create distrust
The large fences that surround the public park at Diagonal Mar, have led to
concerns of many neighbours that it will be reserved for residents only. The
Park will be open from 10 in the morning until dusk and will be closed during
the night. President of the Association of Neighbours of Diagonal Mar, Josep
Fixed, fears that the large fences will lead the Park becoming a barrier for
their district. "If we cannot get into the park, how we will be able to get
to the beach?", he asks. The neighbours think that the Diagonal Mar private
housing should not be located within the public area. This is an opinion shared
by the Fòrum of the Besòs and the Association of Neighbours of Poblenou. These
organizations criticize the public consultation process that is reality only
affects 10 percent of the total surface area. Architect Benedetta Tagliabue
explains that the park was planned to integrate the residential blocks. "We
did not choose to replicate an Eixample block, where the park is within the
building island, but the other way around", Tagliabue says. The perimeter
fence is to avoid acts of vandalism and there is no direct access from the
blocks. There is a similarity with the formula used in the Olympic Village,
where the interiors of buildings are public, but are closed at night. There is a
very real 'private' feel to the Olympic Village garden interiors that
discourages casual visitors.
Nou Barris Central Park nearly completed
The park will open next spring and with an area of 16.6 hectares, will be the
second largest urban park in Barcelona (after the Ciutadella and excluding
Montjuïc and Collserola). The park will include two lakes, with paths passing
Ebro rice sector badly hit:poor harvests,
liberalization of tariffs in Europe and reduced river levels
Poor weather has led to a fall of 8% in rice production this year. Temperature
fluctuations have been a problem, particularly for black rice: rice needs even
temperatures to mature and farmers had to reseed several times in April before
germination occurred. Rice dealers further fear a fall in prices next year, when
the liberalization of tariffs will allow the entrance into Europe of rice from
the developing world. In addition, the announcement of a lowering of water
levels to allow for water transfer to Barcelona has created much gloom in the
sector. Farmers are concerned that irrigation water quality will suffer. The new
European agriculture policy will give a simple subsidy per hectare, unlinked to
productivity, which will be a disincentive to farmers to produce more and remain
competitive. The best solution for sustainability in the rice sector lies in
maintaining quality and in obtaining environmental aid that is related to the
environmental function of the rice fields within the Mediterranean wetlands
Barcelona the European city with most mopeds after Rome
with parking for 237,000 mopeds, one moped for every three cars.
The Catalan KANDA Insurance Group relocate to the Ronda de
Kanda, the Spanish market leader in security certification, will relocate its
offices in Barcelona to a building on the Ronda de Dalt. Kanda has a group of 20
companies with offices in Spain and branches in Colombia, Mexico, Canada,
France, United Kingdom, Andorra and Portugal. It will continue to maintain its
technical department in Sabadell.
Changing Economic Structure
Half of the jobs created by the Catalan economy in the last eight years have
been concentrated in commerce (22%), construction (14.7%), hotels and
restaurants (6.1%) or real estate services (4.5%). The growth, in mainly low
income occupations, is linked to increased tourism. Between 1991 and the 2001,
the economy has experienced a radical change of profile. The manufacturing
sector has fallen from from 37% to 25% (the Spanish average is 17%)
and services have increased from 52.8% to 63.7%. The greatest decline in
manufacturing has been in textiles, leather, footwear and metals. The
construction industry lost almost 90,000 jobs between 1991 and 1994 but
recovered them in the eight following years. This changing economic structure is
linked to changes in migration patterns. Population has been displaced from the
large urban centres to the smaller towns. Industry has left the city to relocate
on the periphery. The last decade has also seen the growth of many private
universities and schools. The key to the economic success of the Tarragona,
Girona and Lleida axes is in the model of land deal - hotel planning permission
- construction. Barcelona has remained the centre of services of highest added
value and is better positioned to survive an economic crisis than other urban
centres in the region.
Catalan economy in danger
A report indicates that the delays in the extension of the airport and port and
the high speed rail link, as well as the highest high road tolls in the country
are affecting the competitiveness of the Catalan economy. This it is the
diagnosis of the Col·legi d'Enginyers Industrials de Catalunya in a report in
which the situation of the rail and road networks is examined in detail. It
concludes that the delays in the completion of the large projects - from the
Spanish high speed train (BIRD) to the extension of the port and Barcelona
airport, coupled with public investment decisions favouring Madrid rather than
Barcelona is affecting the growth of the Spanish economy as a whole. Catalonia
is traditionally the 'motor' that drives Spain, representing 19% of Spanish GDP
and contributing 28% of exports. In the last decade it has received just 10.5%
of State investments. Between 1995 and 2003, Madrid will have invested 2,780
million euros in its transport infrastructure improvements, more than double the
1,210 million euros allocated to Barcelona between 1995 and 2010.
Sant Feliu benefits from Garrotxa Natural Park protection
Sant Feliu is the first Costa Brava town to obtain Natural Park Protected Status
with the aim of preserving its rural origins. In contrast to other Coasta Brava
towns, Sant Feliu hotels have benefited from increased visitors this summer
enjoying rural tourism.
Wild boar plague Guilleries
Farmers in the zone of the Montseny and the Guilleries have expressed dismay at
the damage caused by wild boar in their maize fields. The animals are appearing
in numbers never seen before, a result of the crossing between wild animals and
domestic pigs and this year's bad weather that has affected their natural food
supply. The constant rain has prevented chestnuts and acorns from falling from
Barcelona tram link with Baix Llobregat will open in 2003
The network will have three lines with a common trunk route between Barcelona
and the intersection of l'Hospitalet, Esplugues and Cornellà on the
C-245. There will be 15.2 kilometres of track with a total of 29 stops.
The service will have 19 street cars that will have a frequency of three to 10
minutes. It will be able to transport about 65,000 travellers per day, most of
them existing bus users. The neighbours have complained about the link,
preferring a metro line extension instead.
Europe's longest urban tunnel opens to protests
The longest urban tunnel urban in Europe (2.2 kilometres) on the Ronda de Mig
opened yesterday, surrounded by protestors complaining about the construction of
a market on the new-found street surface and new council houses in the zone for
young people and the elderly instead of leisure parks.
Exodus of families from Barcelona forces construction of new
The exodus of inhabitants of Barcelona in search of a better house or an
improved quality of life has widely exceeded the geographic limits of the
metropolitan area. At first the towns of the Maresme or the Vallès saw a new
population influx but now more remote towns in Baix Penedès have been forced to
expand their existing schools and build new ones. Next Monday, two new schools
in Bellvei and Cunit will open and schools in Sant Jaume dels Domenys and
Calafell have been forced to expand. Ninetyfour new students have enrolled in
Vendrell, a very high number considering that new demand in Reus and Tarragona
has been for 96 and 49 students respectively. Cunit has registered an increase
in population of 162 percent in the last ten years. During the same period, the
population of Calafell has increased by 86% and Vendrell by 54%. Ninety percent
of the new students are in the primary age group. Teacher Unions have complained
that class sizes in the coastal towns of Cunit, Calafell, Segur de Calafell and
Vendrell exceed the maximum limit of 25 students per class.
Increase in Barcelona urban density
One of the great virtues of the Metropolitan General Plan (1976) was the
reduction of 20% in building density in the city. But now this percentage is not
adhered to. There is a continuous drip effect of new developments such as
offices in Llançà street and the commercial centre at Sants station that is
causing urban density in the city to increase.
Calafell residents demand solution to night noise
More and more tourist towns on the Daurada Coast face the eternal dilemma of
making their sought-after tranquillity compatible with tourist night-life. The
residents of Calafell are concerned about the opening of three new music bars in
their town and "the fact that young people stay in the street talking and
drinking after the bars shut while they wait for the first train that leaves at
six in the morning", added Francesc Armengou, one of the neighbours'
spokesmen. The mayor explained that the bars keep to the law and that the only
thing that can be done is to increase the police presence to avoid the massive
concentration of young people during the dawn hours. The neighbours also demand
a control on the flow of cars and mopeds at night, the improvement of the street
environment and an increase in the number of litter bins.
Improved rail transport plans
The 'new railway proposal for Catalonia' project presented last Thursday by the
Socialists envisage the train as a vital strategic means of transport for future
European integration. The proposal has two basic objectives: to link the cities
of inner Catalonia (Lleida, Manresa, Vic, Olot) with those of the coastal axis
(Tarragona, Barcelona, Girona) and to create a new rail freight network. By 2020
the present freight traffic will have doubled. The aim is to avoid increased
road congestion and the associated high environmental costs of transport by
road. The financing of this extensive network would follow the Swiss model, paid
for by a tax on trucks, increased fuel tax, an increase of 0.1% in VAT and state
funding. The plan also includes a new city rail link to Poblenou, Fòrum 2004
and the district 22@.
Ebro Delta salt mines in danger
Damage to access routes and electrical supplies caused by this year's poor
weather has led to a fall of 85% in salt production in the delta. Output for
2001-02 will be close to 10,000 tons, when normally it varies between 70,000 and
80,000. Added extra expenses (of 480,000 euros), that the salt mine company has
had to incur to repair weather damage has forced the dismissal of thirteen
workers out of a total of 29. "We need a proper access road and a secure
electrical supply, otherwise our continuity is in danger", claims the
manager of the salt mines, Joan Socarrats. Electricity is needed to regulate the
water levels of the salt lagoons and without it, production is lost. Fecsa, the
Catalan electricity company, says that restoration of a quality service is
impossible because of the precarious state of the Barra del Trabucador, that
gives access to the Banya peninsula.
Costa Brava tourism in decline
Whereas Barcelona has projected a futuristic image with an attractive culture,
the Costa Brava has remained enfixed in the 1960s "sun and beach" era.
The excessive dependency on foreign tourism and big price increases - 40%
increase in hotel room rates in 5 years - has made destinations such as Croatia
or Bulgaria more attractive. The professor of Applied Economics at Barcelona
University, Josep Oliver, believes that the Costa Brava "must review
its policy" if it wishes to remain competitive. In his opinion, the sector
must conserve its natural heritage and reject the construction of new large road
links aimed at a mass tourist market that is in decline. "The natural
surroundings are the Costa Brava's greatest assets and it is essential to
conserve them. If projects continue like the C-252 road between Figueres and the
Bisbal, the coast will lose its value". The construction of new road axes
also threatens the interior. The N-260 viaduct in Castellfollit de la Roca or
the future tunnel of Bracons will reduce the attractiveness of the region, noted
Oliver. In this context, he suggests the development of a common tourist policy
integrating the interior with the coast following a model of "sustainable
growth". The future of the sector can only be secured through "a
quality approach", he concluded. The Annual Economic Report reveals that
the region of Girona continues to be one of the economic motors of Catalonia.
Economic activity in the region grew by 2.8% last year, three tenths above
the Catalan average. Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà, Gironès, Pla of l'Estany and
the Bosc were the most dynamic regions, with a growth in excess of 3%.
Nevertheless, the expansion was more moderate than in previous years, when
economic activity grew by more than 4%. The fall in consumption and the
reduction in public investments explain this negative tendency. For this year,
Oliver predicts negative growth, caused by a fall in tourism and a slowdown in
the construction industry.
The longest urban tunnel in Europe 2.2 kilometres of new
covered ring road
The Ronda de Mig tunnel will open on Sunday. The covering of over 2 kilometres
of ring road has been carried out in different phases over ten years with an
investment of 63.8 million euros- some financed by means of the construction of
ground surface car parks. This construction, much appreciated by local
residents, has allowed for the creation of a large pedestrianised area to be
completed over the covered sections. The 2.2 kilometres Cerdà-Diagonal tunnel
is the largest in the city. Other large urban tunnels include the Rovira,
connecting the Ronda de Mig with the Ronda de Dalt under El Carmel (1.3
kilometres in length), followed by the Olympic Vila tunnel (812 ms), the Oreneta
tunnel on the Ronda de Dalt (783 ms), the Mitre tunnel on the Ronda de Mig (550
ms); the Poblenou tunnel on the Ronda de Dalt (507 ms), the Almansa, also on the
Ronda de Dalt (490 ms), the Pla de Palau, on the Ronda Littoral (455 ms) and the
Columbus tunnel, also on the Littoral, (417 ms).
Barcelona Council approves new plans for 22@
The government gave the green light yesterday for the first council housing in
the new technological district 22@, with about 70 flats to be constructed at the
junction of Cristóbal de Moura and Josep Pla streets, as well as to the
construction of 159 houses in three other zones of the city: 68 apartments for
young people in Nou Barris, 75 for the elderly in Via Favència and 16 for
people affected by city-planning projects in Sants-Montjuïc. The
government also gave approval for five new urbanization and infrastructure
projects in the district 22@. The operation, that will cost about 8 million
euros, affects an area of 50,000 square meters, 8% of the total area that will
be urbanized in this emergent city zone.
Ebro water to Barcelona taps within two years
The Ebro defence committee says that the Government is in a hurry because it
wants to obtain European money before the evaluation of the financing of the PHN
(National Water Plan). The Departament of the Environment hopes to have the
Barcelona water supply network connected to the Tarragona network (which links
with the Ebro) by 2004. The work will involve the construction of a 60 kilometre
1.90 metre-diameter pipe to link Campredó (Tarragonès) with the reservoir at
Olèrdola (Alt Pendès), where it will connect with the network of the
Ter-Llobregat system. Opponents to the plan claim that the connection will
provide as much water as the controversial PHN scheme. The government
claims that there will be a real water crisis in Barcelona without the link. The
interconnection of the Catalan water supply networks, it argues, is the most
rational use of the water and, at the same time, will reduce the volume that
must be transferred from other river basins. The promoters of the connection
also insist that only surplus Ebro water would be transferred to Barcelona. The
Tarragona zone has an annual concession to take 126 hm³ of Ebro water but only
uses about 70 hm³ - with a demand concentrated in the tourist season - and that
will only rise to 80 hm³ towards 2010. "Tarragona does not use all the
water available. Our idea is to take advantage of the excess volume in winter
", says Marta Lacambra, director of the ACA (Agència Catalana de l’Aigua).
A third argument is that, in spite of recent rain, the reservoirs have not
reached the necessary levels, and urgent drought measures are being considered.
Manolo Tomás, leader of the Ebro Defence Committee, thinks, however, that
"the Generalitat looks to quickly obtain European funds because it fears
that the European Union will not authorize the financing once it has made an
environmental evaluation of the hydrological plan". Manolo Tomás does not
think that it is possible to speak of excess water volumes, because
"Tarragona has never used nor been sent the totality of the
concession". The agreement signed with the Ministry of the Environment
anticipates that 85% of the financing - with a cost of 156 million euros- will
come from EU cohesion funds, with 4% from the ministry and the rest from water
consumers or the Generalitat.
Spain has the highest rate of EU unemployment
The rate of unemployment in the European Union has remained stable, at 7.7%. By
country, the lowest rate of unemployment was registered in Luxembourg (2.4%),
whereas the highest was in Spain (11.3%). The countries with the lowest rate of
unemployment included Austria (4,1%), Denmark (4,3%) and Ireland and Portugal
(4,5%). In eleven of the twelve Eurozone states, the rate of unemployment
increased during last the twelve months. The rate of youth unemployment varied
between 7% in Austria and 22.2% in Spain.
No possibility of social cohesion if immigrants do not learn
The massive arrival of new immigrants reveals a weakness in the social use of
Catalan. In the 1960s and 1970s, Catalonia integrated the thousands of immigrant
families that came from the south of Spain, but the recent massive arrival of
immigrants is putting the social use of Catalan in danger. A thesis corroborated
and developed by Ignasi Vila, professor of the University of Girona and expert
in immigration issues, believes that "there is no possibility of social
cohesion if the immigrants do not learn Catalan". Catalonia has made very
little effort to teach Catalan to foreign adults, according to some.
More Black Rain from the Sant Adrià power station
The thermal power station of Sant Adrià de Besòs overlooking Diagonal Mar in
Barcelona has been identified as the source of the "black rain" that
has fallen in the area, damaging furniture, vehicles and clothes. This is not
the first time that it has happened. In June 2000 the first episode of black
rain was detected followed by more two months later. The origin of the problem,
according to the Department of the Environment, is the oil-based fuel used in
the second generator. This gives off iron particles that accumulate in the
chimney and are then dispersed into the atmosphere. A spokesman for the
electricity company said yesterday that no official complaint from the
Government had actually been received. The company has planned the partial
closure of the power station in December. The power station normally only uses
the first and third generators, fed with natural gas, and reserves the second
for short periods of high power demand.
Only 64 of 1,341 pig farms in "vulnerable zones"
have presented plans for environmental protection
Two out of three pig farms have ignored the decree from the Ministry of
Environment that requires them to treat their slurry rather than discharge it
direct into the rivers. Socialist deputy Manel Nadal has declared that this has
become "one of the greatest environmental problems in
Catalonia". At the moment 10 million cubic metres of slurry is
produced each year in Catalonia. In Girona, the vulnerable zones are the
regions of the Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà, Gironès and Pla of l'Estany. A
higher degree of compliance with the regulations is found in Barcelona, where
one in three of the 1,820 registered farms have adjusted to the requirements. In
Lleida only 253 of 3,0014 farms and in Tarragona, 27 of 770 have complied.
Nearly 40,000 written objections to the proposed Barcelona
water transfer plan
More than 37,800 written objections to the planned connection of the water
network of the Consorci d'Aigües of Tarragona with that of the Ter-Llobregat
have been submitted.
Barcelona airport second fastest growing in Europe
Prat was the second fastest growing European airport in July after Paris-Orly.
According to data from the Council of International Airports (ACI), Prat
received 2.08 million passengers, 2.2% more than in the same period last year.
These numbers occur within a European context of general airport decline.
Loss of airport suitcases gives third-world image Barcelona fills the one and two star, but not the luxury hotels
Tourists have been mainly British, French and Italian. The occupancy of hotels
of 1 and 2 stars was 90% in July and 95% in August. Three star hotels recorded
78% in July and 68% in August. Those of 4 stars registered 87% in July and 70%
last month. Five star hotels had an occupancy of 85% in July that fell to 60%
the following month. Economic uncertainty may have led visitors to downgrade
from five stars to four. The oversupply of hotel rooms is blamed by the
hoteliers, with 63 hotels and 8,535 new rooms in the pipeline for 2005. A
tourism spokesman criticises the airport for the rash of lost suitcases. This
gives, he says, "the image of a third-world country".
Tarragona economy is the most dynamic in Catalonia
The growth of tourism and industry along the Daurada Coast led to economic
growth above the Catalan average last year. On the contrary, the primary sector
underwent a strong decline, partly due to the bad olive oil (-58,3%) and wine
harvests (-5,7%), and the reduction in fish catches in the ports of Sant Carles
de la Ràpita (-9%) and Tarragona (-4,3%). This was translated in a fall in
primary sector income of 11.9 percent, the most negative result of Catalonia.
Tarragona headed the expansion of the service sector with a growth in GDP of 3.8
percent. The growth of commerce and tourism has been a determining factor,
although the professor of Applied Economics at the Autònomous University
of Barcelona notices that the picture has already begun to change. "Tourism
of low quality based on low prices and with little added value does not have a
future due to the competition from other emergent destinations; the Daurada
Coast has the advantage of a large number of national clients due to its
geographic situation". Tarragona has had better results in the
industrial sector, with an increase in GDP of 3 percent, followed by Lleida (1.7
percent). The professor emphasized the good growth of the power industry,
concentrated along the River Ebro and Baix Camp, and the role of the food and
chemical industry. It is also the region with the largest reduction in
unemployment in Catalonia, of 5.6 points. The construction industry has entered
a period of more moderate growth. The most dynamic regions of Tarragona are the
Ebro, (this has the fastest growth in Catalonia), Baix Camp, Alt Terra, Baix
Penedès and Tarragonès.
10,000 jobs to go in the textile sector
The textile industry will lose 9,700 jobs and 120 companies next year, according
to the employer's association, the Intertextile Council. The causes are
competition from developing countries and the reduction in demand in Europe.
Developing countries have been helped by the dismantling of EU tariff barriers
and the loss of competitiveness in countries like Italy, Portugal, France and
Germany. Spanish companies have demonstrated a better capacity to adapt and
exports have grown (by 3%) this year, although they have been outpaced by
increasing imports (3.5%).
85% of the companies in the textile sector have less than 20
A structural problem exists in the textile industry that is attributed to the
"individualism" of the industrialists, who are very reluctant to
cooperate. The annual assembly yesterday of the Intertextile Council supported
increased cooperation between companies, particularly in research and
internationalization. There was a demand for greater government promotion of the
industry and financial assistance to encourage innovation. It insisted that the
removal of EU tariff barriers must be accompanied by the opening of markets such
as China and India, where tariffs of 80% are applied.
Catalonia has 26% of Spain's textile companies
Catalonia is the autonomous region with the largest concentration of textile
companies, totalling 9,365, which comprises 26.25% of the total Spanish number.
Of these 9,365, 53.9% are dedicated to manufacturing. Some 32.4%, equivalent to
3,040 companies, specialise in finishing, whereas 1,265 companies are
wholesalers. By provinces, Barcelona is the one that has the largest number of
industries, with 7,822 companies or 83.52% of the Catalan total. It is followed
by the provinces of Girona, with 720 companies, Tarragona with 494 and Lleida
with 339. The autonomous region of Madrid, with 5,080 companies (14.24%), is the
second largest textile industry cluster after Catalonia.
Eight new commercial centres will open by 2007
Catalonia has eight new commercial centres planned that will add 165,000 square
metres of shopping space by 2007, according to the report "Commercial
Centres Market" compiled by the consultants CB Richard Ellis. The new
centres will include the Grand Via II Centre, in the Pedrosa polygon of
l'Hospitalet; the old bullring of Placa España; the Sants station extension;
the second phase of La Maquinista; the project of the Spanish RCD in Cornellà;
the Diversity de Real estate Bouygues, in Sant Boi, and the macroproject of the
old Fecsa electricity powerstation at Finestrelles, promoted by Sacresa and
Inversiones Hemisphere. At the moment Catalonia has 68 commercial centres, with
1,057 million square metres of rentable space. On a national scale, there are
147 commercial centres planned that will involve a total investment of 7,300
million euros by 2006. Sixtytwo centres have already obtained planning approval.
According to the consultant, "the moratorium on the opening of new centres
in some zones (e.g. Barcelona) has had the opposite effect to that
intended", because the promoters have accelerated their projects to
anticipate the moratorium taking effect.
It appears that shopping in Spain is beginning to become the new leisure
Another textile factory closes
The ARAGONESE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY will close its two plants and dismiss 240
workers, illustrating the continuing crisis in the textile sector. The company,
specialising in swimwear and pyjamas, will close its two plants located at Amer
and Pineda. Only a small factory in Morocco will remain in production.
Office Rents fall in Barcelona
The cost of renting an office has fallen by 18%. Property availability varies
from 4% in the city to 18% on the periphery, its highest level since 1997.
The most significant fall in office rents occurred in the metropolitan area,
where the average price was 13.22 euros m²/month, 18.2% less than six months
ago. Prices have fallen by 5.7% along the main CBD axis (Passeig de Gràcia and
Diagonal) and by 3.6% in the new commercial zones (Glòries, Olympic Village,
Poblenou). The only proprietors of buildings that were able to increase their
prices were those of the Eixample, where they are able to let as soon as a
supply became available. The general reduction in prices must be linked to the
increase in the supply (57,000 m² in six months) which has not been absorbed by
the market. Renters have had more options to choose from and the proprietors
have been forced to accept lower rents.
The River Llobregat and the beach at Prat
For the first time since the Sixties, it is possible to safely swim on the beach
at Prat, that until now was a black spot on the coast. The waste water
collectors of the zone have been connected to the Llobregat purifying plant to
avoid direct spillage into the river. The treated water is passed three
kilometres out to sea through a large submarine pipe. This installation is being
completed with a biological cleaning system and by next year 92% of the
contaminated water will be purified. The purifier will have a capacity to treat
420,000 m³ of waste water a day, giving service to the two million inhabitants
of Barcelona, Cornellà, the Prat, Esplugues, l'Hospitalet, Sant Boi, Sant Joan,
Sant Just and Santa Coloma de Cervelló. One of the most ambitious objectives is
to reuse the cleaned water. The Catalan Agència of l'Aigua (Catalan Water
Agency) is investigating the feasibility of pumping the water upstream to Sant
Joan Despí, to feed the final section of the river - very depleted in its final
tract - and of using the water to help maintain the Delta wetlands, for
agricultural irrigation and for injection into the subsoil to suppress the
marine salt water intrusion.
Forestry Ecotax Demand
The Catalan forestry owners have requested an ecotax along the lines of the
Balearic Islands to care for the forests. The spokesman for the Forest
Partnership of Catalonia (CFC), has suggested that users of the forests who stay
in local hotels should have the tax added to their bill. The income would
be used to improve and conserve the abandoned forests. The promoters of this
initiative argue that the forested mountain zones of Catalonia do not generate
sufficient income to allow for their maintenance and the continuous accumulation
of combustible material increases the fire risk. Depopulation is another factor
that contributes to the abandonment of the forests, yet they are receiving more
visitors each year. Joan Rovira, Secretary General of the Forest Partnership,
supports an ecotax since the forests offer numerous advantages to society such
as a leisure resource, the conservation of biodiversity, the ecological
reduction of carbon dioxide, a reduction in flood risk, water storage and many
other functions. The Government Forest Policy requires the allocation of 30
euros per hectare per year to forestry management, whereas a study by the
association of Forest Professionals (Profor) indicates that it is spending only
4.3 euros per hectare.
New urbanization at Perelló
400 houses and a hotel are planned for the six kilometres that separate the
population of Perelló from the coast. The Council has fixed a 100 metre limit
between the development and the coast, as required by current law, to encourage
conservation and allow for public access. Mayor Pallarès recognizes that
"there are many people who do not know that we have a coast; in fact
Perelló is a town that has always lived with its back to the sea". The
Council wants to diversify the predominantly agricultural economy with the
development of a tourist industry and new irrigation projects in the area.
All historic districts of the city to have a housing
At the moment only the Eixample, Ciutat Vella, Gràcia and the district of Poble
Sec have a housing office with old industrial areas such as Sants or Sant Andreu
lacking this amenity. The president of the Council Building Heritage, Eugeni
Forradellas, has asked for aid for those owners who renovate their apartments
and wish to rent. A new policy document tackles the issues of space taken up in
the construction process and the need to renew building exteriors to assist the
rental market. Forradellas also wants to encourage the sale of houses to the
City council, so that it can meet the cost of the rehabilitation and allocate
homes to underprivileged groups.
The document also emphasises the changes in the type of occupation of the
traditional house caused by high prices and changes in society. Houses are now
typically subdivided and occupied by single people, the young, the elderly or
According to estimations, those groups with limited resources will represent 50%
of the housing demand in the next ten years. Jaume Barnada, director of Policy
of Land and Dwelling, explained that in the last eight years, 24,000 new
houses have been constructed, of which 12,000 correspond to apartments with
protected low rents. Critics such as the municipal group of Convergència i
Unió accused the government of planning "to construct a city for
millionaires. Instead of assisting the supply of affordable housing so that
Barcelonians can continue living in the city, speculative operations are
promoted that create luxury districts".
La Vanguardia 7.09.2002
Plans for a new airport in Barcelona
The Government has plans to construct three new airports in Catalonia, starting
work in 2007. A new airport in Barcelona would absorb 90% of the traffic
currently congesting the Sabadell terminal and ease flows at El Prat. There are
27 million travellers a year currently passing through the Catalan airports and
this figure is expected to rise to 90 million in 2025. Freight traffic is
anticipated to increase annually from 90 to 100 million tonnes. The plan is
based around the existing three large airports: El Prat, Reus and Girona.
Councillor Puig, from the Government Land and Works Policy Department believes
that it is necessary to relieve the pressure on the small airport at Sabadell
(north of Barcelona) , and to avoid freight congestion at El Prat. The location
is still to decided. Locational studies will be made next year. The regions with
the greatest possibilities are El Bages and l' Anoia. "In any case, it must
be a location that has geographical and environmental viability and that is well
connected with the metropolitan region of Barcelona", added the councillor.
The plan also anticipates a second runway in Girona. Puig insists on the
necessity to coordinate the three existing large airports within the plan.
Hydroports are also planned at eight dams (Riba-Roja, Flix, Mequinensa, Oliana,
Sant Ponç, Sau, Boadella and Camarassa) and in six points of the coast (Roses,
Palamós, mouth of the port of Barcelona, Vilanova i the Geltru, Cubelles,
l'Ampolla and the mouth of the port of Tarragona).
La Vanguardia 7.09.2002
Fòrum 2004, " a bad example"
Carles Desert (CiU), mayor of Roses and president of the Delegation of Girona,
criticizes the "large-scale property developments" that are underway
along the coast, such as the Universal Forum of Cultures 2004, because he thinks
that "they are not good examples for the future of the Catalan coast".
He fears tourism along the Costa Brava (north of Barcelona) will be adversely
affected by new competition.
La Vanguard 7.09.2002
Cerdà goes to London
Ildefons Cerdà, planner of the Eixample Garden City project of 1859, has been
honoured in London as the pioneer of modern urbanism in a exhibition at the
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). For Richard Hastilow, president of
the RIBA, the project of Cerdà "is a supreme example of a civilized
La Vanguardia 7.9.2002
The new water purifying station on the River Llobregat represents the beginning of an irreversible process of improvement in the
environmental quality of the Llobregat delta. With a capacity to purify the
effluent of 2.3 million inhabitants and a 420,000m³ daily volume, these
biological purification facilities are part of the Catalan National Hydrological
Plan and will become one of the largest and most modern in Europe. The scheme
will also help prevent the marine intrusion of saline water upstream and as a
result, help raise the fresh watertable in the surrounding area. This in turn,
will have long-term benefits for agricultural and industrial users who will have
access to new groundwater sources.
The rejuvenation of Castellfollit de la Roca The birth rate of the second smallest town in Catalonia has increased after
20 years of stagnation. In 1998 four babies were born in the town, compared to
just one in 1995, bringing the population to 1,000. The new houses for young
couples that Castellfollit offers are, according to some, the causes of the
population increase. But some sources claim that the arrival of young working
people for the construction of the new N-260 bypass have also contributed to the
population increase. Of the 40 places available at the day-care centre in
Castellfollit, more than 30 have already been occupied by children of preschool
age, 0 to 3 years. Half of the children come from other towns in the Garrotxa
region (Olot, Sant Joan les Fonts and Vall de Bianya). This increase in the
birth rate is also occurring in other Garrotxa districts. The population of Olot
has increased by 94, (with 237 births in 2001), Sant Joan les Fonts has 13 new
inhabitants (15 births in 2001) and Tortellà, 3 (one birth last year). This
tendency contrasts with the tradition in which Garrotxa is one of the Catalan
regions with the largest index of ageing. Catalonia has an average of 111 people
over the age of 65 years for every 100 children of 14 or less years of age. In
Olot there are 192.