Costa del Sol News - 11th December 2009

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive In association with

The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.

Málaga's German bridge turns 100

The span was built in thanks for the rescue of shipwrecked German sailors

By Dave Jamieson

One of Málaga's most emblematic bridges across the Guadalmedina river celebrates its centenary next Wednesday.  Santa Domingo bridge, popularly known as the German bridge, opened on December 16, 1909.

The story of the bridge began nine years earlier in December 1900 when a number of German sailors were rescued by the people of Málaga after the frigate Gneisenau, a three-masted ship of Germany's Imperial Navy, sank outside the port of Málaga.  Her steam-powered engines failed during a storm and she became grounded on a reef.  Numerous local people dived into the waters in a rescue attempt, many losing their lives.  Forty-two people died but others were rescued and cared for by local residents. 

Then seven years later, Málaga was devastated by flooding.  Early on September 24, 1907, a cloudburst began to swell the Guadalmedina, which overflowed bringing an avalanche of water and mud inundating property and structures with such force that a number of primitive bridges, including the original Santa Domingo, were washed away.  Their debris was then washed up against the Tetuán bridge, blocking the river's flow and forcing water to accumulate behind it.  As the level of the trapped water rose, it began to overflow into Alameda Principal, finally finding its way to the sea at the new port area.  Some places suffered flood water five metres deep, 21 people were killed and dozens injured. Those Germans who had stayed in Málaga in 1900 showed their appreciation by immediately opening an appeal for funds to assist in repairing the devastation.  Emperor William II contributed, as did his ministers, local town halls, chambers of commerce and private people, with the cash raised going to the reconstruction of the Santo Domingo bridge.  The project was developed and managed by the Germans and handed over to the people of Málaga by the German Consul on December 16, 1909, on the ninth anniversary of the Gneisenau disaster. 

Dry rainy season renews threat of water restrictions

Measures would affect agriculture and industry, not domestic supply

By Oliver McIntyre

What has so far been an extremely dry raining season has given rise to renewed threats of restrictions on agricultural and industrial water use in Málaga province, though officials say there is absolutely no concern over supply for domestic consumption.

November, traditionally the wettest month of the year in Málaga, produced only around a tenth of the average rainfall for the month.  According to Aemet, the national meteorological agency, Málaga airport received just 13mm of rain in November, compared to the average 115mm.  Year to date through November, the city recorded 260mm, less than half the average of 540mm.  Some inland zones fared slightly better, but not by much. 

Overall, the province's reservoirs are currently at 36 per cent capacity, holding a total of 220 cubic hectares of water.  The situation is significantly better than at the same time last year, when the reservoirs were at 28 per cent capacity.  However, the western Costa del Sol's principal reservoir, La Concepción above Marbella, is much worse off than at the same time last year, currently at less than 50 per cent capacity when it was practically full at the end of November 2008.  To compensate, officials have already begun increasing production at the Río Verde desalination plant.

The Junta de Andalucía's environment chief, Cinta Castillo, last week warned that the agricultural and industrial sectors could face water restrictions if rains don't begin to materialise soon.  However, she insisted that the current water level of the province's reservoirs is sufficient to guarantee supply for human consumption for two years.

Mayor orders demolition of 17 illegal buildings

The buildings targeted are either constructed on protected land or have no town hall licences

By David Eade

The courts and prosecutors are currently investigating a dozen cases of illegal buildings in Ronda.

As the mayor Antonio Marín has been implicated in some of these proceedings it is perhaps, not surprising that he has opted to act first and order the demolition of 17 structures.

The buildings targeted are either constructed on protected land or have no town hall licences. The mayor has based his case on the Andalucía planning law (LOUA) and says,"all the buildings, chalets etc have been realised on integral protected land - especially serious are five of those that have been built in the Hoya del Tajo, a site of maximum protection."

All the demolition orders have been subjected to town planning disciplinary action with resulting fines.

The mayor added that current legislation does not permit these buildings that have been indentified by the town planning inspection service which has used a satellite-linked helicopter to fly over the entire 500 square kilometres that make up the municipality. Agents can record properties and check their exact location on the planning charts.

The size of the fines depends on the size of the properties and can vary between 30,000 and 300,000 euros. The levy is also based on the time it takes to restore the land to a legal state after demolishing the offending constructions.

One of the buildings alleged to be illegal is the stable complex in the Hoya del Tajo. Currently Málaga's public prosecutor's office and three Ronda courts are looking into a possible dozen illegal buildings.