Costa del Sol News - 10th September 2010

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Costa motorists learn green driving techniques

Tips learned in free class can save drivers 170 euros a year on petrol

By Oliver McIntyre

MORE than 4,000 residents of Málaga province have learned petrol-saving green driving techniques in free classes offered by the Junta de Andalucía since 2005. 

Officials say the simple techniques taught in the roughly five-hour class can result in an annual savings of around 170 euros for someone who drives 15,000 kilometres a year.  The savings is based on a 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption achieved by efficient-driving techniques such as not stepping on the accelerator when starting the motor, always driving in the highest practical gear, or turning off the engine during stops of a minute or more.

The classes are also offered to industrial-vehicle drivers, driving school instructors and Traffic Department (DGT) workers. For industrial vehicles, the techniques can achieve fuel savings of eight to 17 per cent, say officials. 

"A metro bus burns an average of approximately 48 litres per 100 kilometres," says the Junta.  By applying the green driving techniques, "a fleet of 500 buses will save more than a million litres of diesel a year." 

Drivers who have taken the class agree that the techniques can help save on petrol use.  "They are little things, but lots of little things that add up over time," one veteran of the class told Costa del Sol News.

Regionwide the Junta's Department of Economy, Science and Innovation has provided the classes to nearly 20,000 drivers at a total cost of 2.8 million euros over the last five years.  This year's budget is 620,000 euros, aimed at training 7,750 drivers. 

Alhaurín's Airport City set for takeoff

Major business hub to see 200 million-euro investment over 15 years

By Oliver McIntyre

ALHAURÍN de la Torre town hall's star project, the planned Airport City development aimed at serving as a logistics and business hub for the Málaga airport as well as a thriving commercial and residential zone, is a step closer to takeoff.  This week the council will approve the land classification changes necessary for the project to move forward.

The Ciudad Aeroportuaria is a hugely ambitious project envisioning 200 million euros of investment over the next 15 years and the creation of 25,000 direct jobs and 80,000 indirect jobs.  The town hall projects that when complete it will represent some four per cent of the GDP of the entire region of Andalucía. 

The project takes in 380 hectares (3.8 million square metres) of land in the north-eastern part of the town, adjacent to Málaga's Pablo Ruiz Picasso international airport.  It has the support of the Junta de Andalucía, which in response to heavy lobbying from the town hall earmarked the zone for commercial-industrial use in the regional development plan (POT) for the Málaga metropolitan area.

The town hall expects the project to receive final approval within the next year, with work getting underway during the second half of 2011.  Development of the project will be broken into three five-year phases.

US oak arrives for Galvéz tribute ship

Replica of 18th-century vessel to be created using trees felled by Hurricane Ike

By Dave Jamieson

SOME 300 tons of oak has arrived in Macharaviaya from the US.  It will be used in the construction of a replica of the 18th-century vessel sailed by one of the town's most famous sons.

The gift, transported in 16 containers, arrived in the Axarquía last Thursday accompanied by a delegation from of St Augustine, headed by its deputy mayor, Errol Jones.  The wood has come from oak trees which were felled in the Florida town during Hurricane Ike, which devastated much of the southern US in September 2008.

It will be used to construct a replica of the warship Galvezton, which was built in 1779 for Bernardo de Gálvez and with which he captured Pensacola from the British in 1781.  Gálvez was born in Macharaviaya in 1746.

Following family tradition, Bernardo chose a military career and by 1777 had become Governor of Louisiana.  He secured the port of New Orleans so that only American, Spanish, and French ships used the Mississippi River, and in 1779 was commissioned by King Carlos III to conduct a campaign against the British along the Mississippi and the Gulf Coast.  The climax came when Gálvez directed the joint land-sea attack which led to the capture of Fort George in Pensacola, then the British capital of West Florida.

Fourteen-year-old accidently shot by friend

Boys were playing with a decorative shotgun hanging on wall of family home

By David Eade

A 14-YEAR-OLD was shot and injured in Ronda last week when two boys were playing with a shotgun.

At 9.40pm on Tuesday night, as the town was preparing for its annual Pedro Romero feria with processions through the streets and crowds thronging the bars before heading to the fairground, a shot rang out above Avenida de Andalucía.  Cars came to a halt and residents hung from their balconies to see what had happened as both the National Police and the ambulance service raced to the scene.

It was later revealed that two teenagers in one of the apartments had taken an old hunting gun down from the wall and started to play with it. After taking the decorative item from the wall they loaded it with a cartridge.

During the larking around the gun went off and the 14-year-old fell to the ground injured. He had been shot in the back and shoulder. He was rushed to hospital and later transferred to the Carlos Haya in Málaga though his injuries are not life threatening. His friend was also treated for extreme shock.

Licensed gun

Police said that because the gun was old and had not been used for sometime the cartridge was not fired with the same force as if it had been a well-maintained weapon. Although the shotgun was for decorative use, it is understood that the father of one of the boys has a license for it.


Thousands of drivers have received illegal speeding fines, says motoring group

By Dave Jamieson

MANY motorists may have been illegally fined for speeding in Spain this summer, according to the Association of European Motorists (AEA).  The group claims that the Traffic Department (DGT), as well as regional traffic authorities in Cataluña and Galicia plus several town halls imposed sanctions which in many cases were triple the legal level.

In a statement last week, the AEA said it estimated that the problem affected around 100,000 motorists who have been overcharged and had points deducted from their licences. 

The situation has been caused by authorities incorrectly applying new legal margins of error on radar speed-checking equipment which came into effect in May.  Since then, fixed radar cameras should have a maximum four per cent error margin applied while mobile units should have seven per cent applied.

Málaga is named as an example of town halls that have applied the error margins correctly, along with Córdoba, Barcelona, Madrid and Bilbao.  However, a number of other authorities, including the DGT itself and around a number of other town halls are accused of getting it wrong.

Internet death threats against mayor

Arrested man was to stand as rival candidate at next elections

By David Eade

THE Guardia Civil have arrested a man who is alleged to have used the internet to make threats against the mayor of Jimera de Líbar.

The man, a 64-year-old resident of the village, also faces charges of coercion and illegally carrying weapons. It is alleged he used the internet forum - Municipio de Jimera de Libar to make threats under the pseudonyms jesusmartinez, eusebio 1964 and liberarte.

Among the threats - which included murder - was one saying that the locality of Jimera de Libar would become another Fago - the village in Aragón where the mayor was killed in January 2007.

The mayor of Jimera de Libar, the Partido Popular's Mayte Domínguez, has declined to make any pronouncements on the hate campaign against her, saying it is in the hands of the courts, though she admits she has been very worried for her family.

It has been revealed that the man accused of the death threats was intending to stand against the mayor as the main candidate for the Partido Andalucista at the next municipal elections. He has dismissed the charges against him, saying the accusations are politically motivated. He says the internet threats could have been written by anyone in an internet café and explained the weapons by the fact he used to be a hunter.

First DNA Civil War reprisal victim buried

Antonio Palma Moreno's remains were laid beside those of his widow

By David Eade

ANTONIO Palma Moreno was laid to rest on Saturday at the cemetery of Aguilar de la Frontera in Córdoba province. He was the first victim of Civil War reprisals in Andalucía to be to be interred after being identified by his DNA.

The ceremony organised by the Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica was attended by his two granddaughters. His remains were laid beside those of his widow Carmen Reina.

Members of the association were at the cemetery to witness the funeral along with some 50 people from the village. His bones were carried by Manuela Molina in a wooden box covered with the Republican flag. Manuela is now in her 80s and witnessed the shooting of Antonio and others near the cemetery walls.

Rafael Espino, president of Aremehisa - the local association dedicated to recovering Civil War history - stated that Antonio Palma was the first of those shot in reprisal Andalucía during the Civil War to be identified by his DNA.

One of his granddaughters, Antonia, spoke of her deep emotion on this "very special day," adding that her grandmother would have been very proud to know that so many years on people were speaking so warmly of her husband.

Manuel Palma was born in Aguilar de la Frontera on August 23, 1908, and was from a family of farm workers. He was shot on July 24, 1936, and his remains indicated a wound in his back. Worked started on his exhumation on May 3 and four other bodies were also found - two women, a young boy and another man.

As there was no means of identifying them, the family agreed to have DNA tests carried out. Manuel Palma may be the first victim identified by genetic testing

Spain was world transplant leader in 2009

Twice as many organ transplants than any other European country

By Dave Jamieson

SPAIN has been named by the EU as a world leader by conducting over 4,000 organ and limb transplants during 2009 to retain its status at the top of the international listing.  However, the situation may be very different this year.

The full data for last year will be published later this month in the 2010 issue of Transplant, an EU newsletter, although part of its content was revealed last Friday by Health and Social Policy Ministry.  The figures were supplied by the National Transplantation Organization (ONT) which was founded by the government in 1980 to maximize the number of transplants possible for Spanish citizens regardless of race, religion or socioeconomic situation. 

The ONT has been remarkably successful and has increased the rate of transplant operations by 280 per cent to 34.4 per million people.  Last year, almost twice as many transplants were conducted in Spain than in any other European country; it was responsible for 17.5 per cent of all organ donations in the EU; and it had the world's lowest rate of transplant refusals by family members.  There were 1,605 donors resulting in 4,028 transplants of kidneys, lungs, livers, hearts, pancreas and intestines.

However, as reported in CDSN last week, Spain's huge reduction in fatalities from road traffic accidents may threaten the country's success rate for 2010.  In the first six months of this year, the number of organ donations in Andalucía was down by half, compared with 2009.  Traffic fatalities now account for only seven per cent of all donations, compared with 38 per cent 17 years ago.

In Málaga, donations were down 32 per cent in the first six months of the year, compared with the same period in 2009.  However, the number of transplants in the province remained almost unchanged at 85, just two fewer than last year.

La Línea toll charge will be stopped in courts

MP calls plan for the Gibraltar border toll a 'breach of local tax laws'

By David Eade

THE PSOE MP for Cádiz, Salvador de la Encina, has stated that the Spanish government's lawyers will go to court to stop the mayor of La Línea, Alejandro Sánchez, from imposing his toll charge for vehicles either entering or leaving Gibraltar.

He said the lawyers will go in to action once La Línea has put the administrative process into place. He added: "The proposal will be contested because there are strong grounds to do so.

"Imposing that charge would be a breach of local tax laws, which prevent municipalities from implementing any tax that impacts on the freedom of movement of people and goods. It would also be in breach of EU law."
The original plan was to charge vehicles as they entered the Rock but this would have meant extensive road works in La Línea, much of it on State owned roads. It appears the mayor has switched instead to charging vehicles as they cross the border from Gibraltar. Municipal workers have built a raised curb to separate traffic on the road to La Atunara in preparation for the toll causing major traffic delays and tailbacks in Gibraltar.
Sr De la Encina warned should La Línea exceed the physical limit imposed by the Ministry of Public Works on the border road alterations and extend the curb onto the national road, then this would be removed "within 24 hours."