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News: Spanish construction threatens environment

The Spanish press has recently reported that the building boom on the country’s Mediterranean coast is reaching fever pitch.  According to reports, the land surface covered by infrastructure has risen by 40 percent in 18 years, with over 800,000 units built last year alone.  Land surface in Spain covered by man-made developments has increased by an average of 1.9 annually in recent years, much faster than the European average of 0.68 percent.

Construction activity is concentrated in the Murcia and Valencia regions.  Development is also strong in Madrid and is picking up on the northern coast, according to newspaper reports.

Murcia drying up

This rapid pace of construction is threatening Spain's environment the Sustainability Observatory has warned in a recent report to Spain's environment ministry.  This is because land covered by buildings is lost as a source of water and vegetation, experts emphasised. “The land is our heritage, a loan from our children,” said Luis Jimenez of the Sustainability Observatory.

Concerns over water supply have led authorities in Murcia to recently introduce water-saving measures.  This makes Murcia the first autonomous region in Spain to apply specific regulations covering the use and conservation of water.

The Segura Water Board has warned that current property development projects should be put on hold until sufficient desalinated water can be delivered to Murcia to ensure a healthy supply to those projects.  As a result, more than 65 new developments in the region will be shelved until water supply is less uncertain.

Amalio Garrido, head of Murcia's water company, Aguas de Murcia, has also announced plans to impose strong measures to safeguard scarce water resources.  The new measures will restrict water usage on new developments, including the imposition of size restriction on the construction of new swimming pools.

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