The Spanish Government recently approved and resolved to submit to Parliament a Draft Law on the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Coastline and Amendment of Coastal Law 22/1988.
Government members explained that the existing law dating from 1988 lacked clarity and homogeneity, has proved inefficient to protect the environment and created insecurity and conflicts. Complaints to the European Parliament lead 2009 to the Auken Report, which urged Spain to amend the Coastal Law.
The amended law aims at a more effective environment protection and coastline conservation, combined however with a sustainable use, and at providing full legal security for citizens and companies, putting an end to today’s situation of uncertainty in many areas.
Amongst others, administrative concessions will be extended up to 75 years, the Central State Administration will have power to suspend decisions taken by local authorities that infringe the law, the delimitation of maritime-terrestrial domain will be revised according to merely technical rules. The base of this delimitation, which is the 100 m. wide strip of land measured from the interior limit of the sea shore in rural areas, and 20 m. wide strip of land measured from the interior limit of the sea shore in urban areas, has not been changed. Another novelty is the distinction made between “urban” and natural beaches.
Some major legal changes:
Delimitation of the maritime-terrestrial domain: The extent of the maritime-terrestrial domain will be defined more clearly and strictly technical criteria will be applied to delimitate the coast, which will bring about higher legal security for owners, concession holders and users, avoiding arbitrary situations as on the picture. As well the situation of maritime-terrestrial urbanisations is clarified, the public character of channels and other ways being combined with guaranteeing house owners their right to private property
Different treatment for beaches situated next to urban areas and beaches next to protected natural or rural areas, the latter being granted a higher level of protection under the new law.
Protection of the coastline: the Central Government shall have power to suspend decisions taken by local authorities that affect the integrity of the maritime-terrestrial public domain or infringe the prohibitions set forth in the Law, and to appeal against such decisions at Court, thus preventing new cases of illegal constructions.
Prohibition of new buildings in the public domain: It is maintained and strengthened, and the necessary improvement works on existing buildings will be allowed only insofar they do not imply an increase of volume, height or surface.
The delimitation will be available on the Internet: The citizens are guaranteed access to an up-to-date information on properties and other rights, the inscription in the Land Registry of properties being compulsory, to avoid that one in good faith buys a property on the coast to discover later that the property is under the limit of the public domain. Information on the limitation line from the Land Registry and from the Cadastre will be available on the Internet,
As regards concessions of use of the public domain, as a general rule, the length of those concessions is extended to a maximum of 75 years, transfers mortis causa and inter vivos transfers being allowed.
The new Law also establishes a special extension of 75 years to existing concessions, thus giving a solution to the extinction of concessions granted under the 1988 Coastal Law, which set a general maximum length of 30 years, that is, due to expire in 2018., which in application of the previous law, might have involved in few years the demolition of thousands of properties situated within the public domain.
The Draft law, which must first go through Parliament, where the Government has an ample majority, has been criticised by ecologist groups but it was received favourably by European authorities. So European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, in a statement quoted by Europa Press.,: “The Spanish government is right to protect the beauty of the seacoast and I applaud the care shown in doing it so as to improve legal certainty and proper procedures for citizens who already own a property on the Spanish coast or who considering acquiring it “.
Example of demarcation that can rightly generate a feeling of arbitrariness under the current 1988 Coastline Law:
Official Sites of Spanish Government
Complete draft of the law http://www.magrama.gob.es/es/costas/temas/Proyecto_ley_Costas_con_planimetria_red_tcm7-223943.pdf