News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week July 17th to July 23rd 2003.
FOREIGN-RESIDENT POPULATION SOARS
Number of foreigners living in Spain has tripled in last seven years
By Oliver McIntyre
IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS ALONE, THE NUMBER OF FOREIGNERS LIVING LEGALLY IN SPAIN HAS INCREASED NEARLY 10 PER CENT, JUMPING FROM 1,324,001 TO 1,448,671 - AND IN THE LAST SEVEN YEARS, THE LEGAL FOREIGN POPULATION HAS TRIPLED.
According to figures released last week by Spain's Home Office, Europeans continue to make up the greatest number of legal foreigners in Spain, at 35 per cent, followed by immigrants from the Americas (28 per cent), Africa (27 per cent) and Asia (8 per cent). By individual country, Morocco is the source of the greatest number of legal immigrants (282,432), followed by Ecuador (115,301). The British are by far the biggest European group, and the third overall, with 90,091 Britons legally residing in the country. The next biggest groups are Colombians (71,238) and Germans (65,823).
In releasing the immigration figures last week, Spanish Home Office minister Ángel Acebes also highlighted the increased birth rate among the foreign population in recent years. More than 43,000 babies were born to foreign residents in 2002, representing over 10 per cent of all births in the country that year. Sr Acebes described the figure as "a very notable increase" from the 11,832 babies born to foreign residents in the country in 1996, which represented just over three per cent of all births that year.
The presence of foreign residents is not spread even throughout the country. Some 80 per cent of the legal foreign residents live in just six of the country's 17 autonomous regions - Cataluña, Madrid, Andalucía, Valencia, and the Canary and Balearic Islands. And nearly 63 per cent of the foreigners are clustered in six individual provinces: Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante, the Balearic Islands, Murcia and Las Palmas.
According to minister Acebes, the statistics released last week show that "Spain has been very generous with immigration." He also pointed out that the country's "capacity to take in and integrate" foreigners is not unlimited, although, in his opinion, there is still room to absorb additional immigrants as long as it is done "in a controlled manner."
JIMENA AIRPORT FACES ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES
By David Eade
THE PROMOTERS OF THE PLAN TO BUILD AN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IN JIMENA DE LA FRONTERA RECENTLY PRESENTED THEIR PROJECT TO MEMBERS OF THE REGIONAL ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL, DESPITE CLAIMS THAT THE AIRPORT WOULD CAUSE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS.
The proposed airport would take up 160 hectares of land at Finca Barría, adjacent to the A-359 Algeciras-to-Ronda road, with a 2,400-metre runway running north to south. If given approval, it would be known as the Costa del Sol airport and would serve the needs of people living between the existing Málaga, Jerez and Gibraltar airports. It is projected that 70 per cent of the traffic would be tourists and that the existence of the airport would generate 1,000 direct and 2,700 indirect jobs.
Detractors say that any airport in the area would be likely to cause a noise nuisance for the large luxury urbanisations in Sotogrande, as well as for the residents of Jimena de la Frontera itself and the many Britons, Spaniards and other EU citizens who moved to the area seeking peace and tranquillity.
In addition, there are significant environmental challenges to be met. The proposed site of the airport is alongside the Hozgarganta River at the edge of the heavily wooded Los Alcornocales natural park. There are fears about the potential impact of the dumping of waste into the river, as well as the noise pollution. The area is also an important crossing zone for the millions of birds that migrate across the Straits of Gibraltar each year.
POTHOLERS FIND CORPSE OF MAN MISSING FOR 14 YEARS
By Oliver McIntyre
A group of potholers exploring a cavern outside the northern Guadalhorce Valley town of Ardales made a gruesome discovery last week. They stumbled across the remains of a man who had been missing for 14 years.
The man, Félix B., was a lottery-ticket salesman in Ardales, where he lived with his family just four kilometres from the site where the potholers found his remains 15-metres down inside the cavern, slightly covered in dirt and brush. After his disappearance in March 1990, the man's family had searched far and wide for him, even airing their case on television programmes, which drummed up leads in places as far away as La Rioja and Valencia - but all false alarms. His wife, Ana P., was formally declared a widow 10 years after his disappearance.
After the initial discovery of the body, the Guardia Civil Mountain Rescue unit was called in to make thorough search of the cavern and remove the man's remains, which were transferred to the Guardia Civil station in Coín. According to police sources, all initial signs point to an accidental death, probably caused when the man fell into the cavern while strolling in the wooded area outside town picking wild asparagus, an activity his family says he often enjoyed. The fact that the body was partially covered with dirt may be due to the natural water flow that occurs occasionally in the cavern.
LIGHT AIRCRAFT CRASH RAISES CONCERNS
Nerja residents worried about low-altitude flights
By Dave Jamieson
NERJA RESIDENTS, ALREADY CONCERNED ABOUT THE INCREASE IN LOW-FLYING LIGHT AIRCRAFT OVER RESIDENTIAL AREAS, WERE FURTHER WORRIED BY A CRASH-LANDING NEAR CÁJIZ LAST FRIDAY.
There were no serious injuries when the plane, a Rally 180 towing an advertising banner, came down on an avocado farm in the Axarquía at around 18.00 in the afternoon. The pilot, Simón M., who made an emergency exit, escaped with only scratches, but the aircraft, belonging to the company Iberfly, was severely damaged.
The control tower at Málaga airport alerted the emergency services after the pilot reported that his engine had failed and he was making for the airfield at Vélez-Málaga. However, the plane began to lose altitude, and Sr Merino decided to try to land on a riverbed. As it fell, the aircraft was slowed when it hit high-tension power lines, finally coming to rest nose-down in a tree on a farm belonging to an absent foreign owner, about a kilometre from the coast.
Sr M. was praised for taking action to ensure the plane came down in a sparsely populated area. However, Nerja residents point out that, while planes towing advertising banners tend to fly over the sea, there has been a noticeable increase in light aircraft on pleasure flights making repeated passes at very low altitudes over areas such as Burriana Beach and its surrounding urbanisations. Residents have expressed concerns that, apart from the noise pollution caused, an incident such as last Friday's could clearly become a major disaster if it occurred over a densely populated tourist area, where international regulations require aircraft to fly no lower than 300 metres above the highest obstacle.
PARKING EASED IN FRIGILIANA
NEWS Staff Reporter
Immediate action is to be taken to alleviate Frigiliana's chronic parking problems. In addition to the longer-term plan for a new 500-space car park (CDSN July 10-16), the Town Hall is creating a number of spaces to combat the problem caused by over 2,000 vehicles arriving daily to a town with only 550 parking spaces. Twenty new places are being created in the Barriada de la Paz, between Calle Rafael Alberti and the Plaza de la Constitución. Two sites in the Puerto Blanquillo area will see the creation of 90 places, and Mayor Javier López Ruiz confirms that 200 vehicles can now be accommodated around Los Bancales. There are also plans to reorganise the existing parking area between the Plaza del Ingenio and the Hotel Villa de Frigiliana, creating spaces for an additional 15 coaches and 15 lorries.
FUENGIROLA TO GET NEW TOWN HALL
NEWS Staff Reporter
One of the election promises of the Partido Popular in Fuengirola at the recent elections was that it would commission a new town hall building for the town. Now the mayoress, Esperanza Oña, has announced that 10 architects have been invited to submit proposals for the new building. Sra Oña explained that a new town hall is needed because the present building is too cramped and is preventing the municipal departments from operating effectively. She dismissed any suggestion that the current building should be enlarged, stating that it is part of the town's heritage and must be protected.
The new town hall is to be built on a 1,000-square-metre site close to the Museo de Historia de la Ciudad. It will have six floors and an underground car park.
MASSIVE PARKING PROGRAMME FOR RONDA
NEWS Staff Reporter
The lack of parking is one of the main problems faced by the popular tourist destination known as the town of the Tajo. So it was no surprise that in the recent local elections the construction of underground car parks was a key promise made by all the political parties. Now a new government team has taken power in Ronda, and one of its first acts will be to get started on the creation of 2,500 parking spaces within the next two years.
The first car park to become operational will be at El Fuerte, where work will commence this month. The mayor, Juan Benítez, said he has also opened a competition for ideas for an underground car park beneath the Plaza de Santa Cecilia. Other locations for car parks include the bus station zone as well as those already announced in Avenida Martínez Astein and the Cuartel de la Concepción.
THREE HUNDRED STARLINGS FOUND DEAD ON GOLF COURSE
Officials suspect poisoning
By David Eade
THE REHABILITATION CENTRE FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES (CREA) IN TOLOX RECENTLY RECEIVED AN URGENT CALL FROM THE ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT OF THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT. THREE HUNDRED COMMON STARLINGS HAD BEEN FOUND DEAD ON A GOLF COURSE IN MANILVA AND THE CENTRE'S DIRECTOR, ANA NARANJO, WAS ASKED TO HEAD THE INVESTIGATION INTO THE BIRDS' DEATHS.
The regional government's delegate for the Environment, Juan Ignacio Trillo, stated, "it is a presumed case of poisoning and we are trying to figure out what agent caused this high death rate." He added that he is not sure whether the birds were killed by a pesticide, but that the frozen bodies of the starlings had been sent to a laboratory for examination.
Sr Trillo emphasised that his department is committed to carrying out a full and thorough investigation into the birds' deaths to determine whether it was an intentional act. The law does permit hunting of the common starling, but it is a punishable offence to kill them in this manner.
In the first six months of this year, CREA has been called upon to investigate 624 cases, of which 250 involved animal deaths. Of the rest, 228 mostly birds have been restored to health and freed, whilst 146 are still in recuperation. The cases have included the treatment of booted eagles (7), eagle owls (23), common chameleons (33), kestrels (73), tawny owls (19) and little owls (49).
Malaga Feria Gets Later And Later
MÁLAGA FERIA GETS LATER AND LATER
By Dave Jamieson
Nights at Málaga's annual fair next month will now last even longer. The Town Hall has announced that celebrations at the night-time fairground can continue for an hour longer than in previous years, closing at 7.00 in the morning. Confirming that the fair will run from August 16 to 24, Culture councillor Diégo Maldonado said that this year will be one of "continuity and consolidation" for the capital city's feria. Organisations occupying the fair's 'casetas' will have access to them as soon as construction is complete towards the end of July, in order to prepare and decorate.
There has also been a call for around 70 per cent of the casetas to remain in place throughout the year. Rafael Trigo, representing the organisations that operate them, says activity could be maintained at times other than during the annual fair, which would be cheaper than erecting and dismantling the structures year after year. He plans to put his proposal to the Town Hall in October.
The Town Hall has also announced that night-time bus services will be increased during the city's fair, with a new route running from Carlinda and the Granja de Súarez to the fairground, bringing to 19 the total number of extra bus services operated during the feria. They will run from 21.00 each night, with a flat fare of one euro, although the Town Hall is looking at the possibility of introducing a season ticket covering the eight days of the event. Meanwhile, residents in the city centre have asked that strict controls on noise and cleanliness be imposed on the day-time feria events held there, particularly after 18.00.