Costa del Sol News - 6th May 2011

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Pizarra PGOU stripped of illegal homes solutions

Councillor Martin said proposals were for homes mostly built before the Andalucia land law

By Oliver McIntyre

AT THE behest of the Junta de Andalucía, Pizarra's local development plan (PGOU) has been stripped of crucial elements that were aimed at regularising the majority of the illegal homes in rural areas of the town.

The town council has approved the changes, which were required by the Junta's Provincial Planning Commission before the document can receive final approval.

One of the two key elements to be axed was meant to regularise the situation of homes in the long-time rural residential districts of Casillas de Díaz and Los Malagueños, and to guarantee basic utilities in the zones. The other involved postponing the classification of certain other rural zones - such as Serrana Mosquera, Arroyo Comendador and Realejo - to allow time for a specific plan to be drawn up that would legalise the majority of the homes in these areas.

Izquierda Unida councillor Miguel Esteban Martín was sharply critical of the amendments to the PGOU but said his group joined the ruling PSOE in approving them because the document as a whole is good for the town.

He said the changes required by the Junta "clipped the wings" of the PGOU by stripping it of the proposed solutions for the rural homes, the majority of which were built before the Andalucía land law (LOUA) came into force.

Sr Esteban said he believed the Junta required the changes in order to prevent a setting of precedent on rural homes ahead of the Junta's own decree on the issue, which was announced recently and is currently being drawn up.

Green light for Nerja sewage plant at last

No work start date has been given but the complex is expected to be opened in 2015

By Dave Jamieson

NERJA'S long-awaited sewage treatment plant has been given the final go-ahead and work can get started.

Last Friday, the Cabinet Meeting in Madrid authorised the licensing of the projects to develop the construction plan and to build the plant.

The news came from the Secretary of State for Territorial Cooperation, Gasper Zarrías, when the visited the local offices of the socialist PSOE party on Friday. He said that, while no date had yet been set for work to start, he expected things to move, "very quickly."

Nerja's Partido Popular mayor, José Alberto Armijo, said it was, "very good news for Nerja and the eastern Costal del Sol." He described it as an important step for tourism and the environment, and said the town hall would continue to press for progress on other projects which will benefit the town, including the proposed golf course and marina.

The water treatment plant is to be built in the zone known as Aguahierro, close to the Fuente del Baden urbanisation east of the town centre, on land purchased by the town hall for the purpose and ceded to the Ministry of the Environment nine years ago. The construction cost of 40.9 million euros is being met by central government and the plant's inauguration, expected in 2015, will be the final step in completing the sanitation network on the Costa del Sol.

Petrol stations confirm huge drop in consumption

Station owners in Málaga province say sales have dropped by 25 per cent

By Oliver McIntyre

PETROL stations in Málaga province say that so far this year fuel sales have dropped by 25 per cent, confirming recent data announced by the government regarding the drop in petrol consumption.

Two weeks ago the Industry Ministry's Strategic Petroleum Products Reserves Corporation (CORES) reported that, from the high reached in 2006, sales of petrol in Málaga province had dropped 17 per cent by the end of 2010 while diesel sales were down 10 per cent. 

The province's service stations say the downward trend is continuing and even sharpening as the economic recession drags on and petrol prices continue their steady upward march. 

Over the last couple of months a further drop in consumption may have been due at least in part to the new 110 kph speed limit on Spanish motorways, which was reduced from 120 kph beginning on March 7.


Town hall helped British residents halt power cut scheduled during Royal wedding

By David Eade

AS THE world geared up for the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey last Friday there was sudden panic amongst the British expats living in Mijas. Whilst the world would be tuned in to watch the live television coverage from London, Endesa was planning to cut off their electricity for maintenance works.

Hundreds of Brits in Mijas would have been affected, plus of course those of other nationalities wishing to watch, including Spaniards as their Royals were also present.

Endesa, without any thought of Royal nuptials, had planned routine maintenance for that morning in the Valtocado and Rosa de la Piedra zones. Not only would the Brits have no power but the wedding-watching parties and family gatherings would be ruined.

"We received the notice around lunchtime on Thursday, just the day before the wedding," said John Leith, president of the Valtocado urbanisation.  He received at least a dozen calls from British residents seeking some kind of solution.

Mr Leith put the urbanisation's lawyer on the case and also contacted the town hall's Foreigners' Department to see if they could get Endesa to postpone the power cut.  While the lawyer was told by Endesa that nothing could be done, the town hall apparently had more pull.

Residents move forward with noise suit

Group of homeowners in Puerto Marina is suing Benalmádena town hall

By Oliver McIntyre

A GROUP of residents in Benalmádena's Puerto Marina have made good on their threat to sue to the town hall over excessive noise in the popular nightlife zone.

A Málaga court has already requested and received from the town hall documentation detailing the measures that have been taken to date in an effort to address the noise problems.  Among other things, the town hall included documents related to closure orders issued to several bars.

The roughly 30 residents involved in the case say they are not fighting for the establishments in the thriving nightlife zone to be shut down, but rather for the strict enforcement of existing regulations on closing times and noise levels.  They say that, despite many promises over the years from three different mayors, the town hall has failed to adequately address the problem.

Uproar as released ETA murderer disappears

Lack of communication between courts allowed him out six years early

By Dave Jamieson

THE OPPOSITION Partido Popular (PP) has asked Spain's top legal watchdog to investigate the High Court decision which mistakenly led to the early release of a convicted ETA murderer, who has now gone missing. 

On April 13, Antonio Troitiño walked out of Huelva prison where he was serving a 2,232-year sentence for terrorist attacks, including one in 1986 which killed 11 police officers in Madrid (CDSN last week).  He had been in prison for 24 years instead of the maximum of 30 years for which he could legally be detained.

The High Court ordered his release after Troitiño's lawyers took advantage of a legal loophole which permitted him to gain credit for all the time spent in preventive custody while awaiting trial on individual charges, and then to subtract that from his maximum sentence.  However, it emerged later that on March 28 the Supreme Court had blocked Troitiño's request for early release, but that its ruling had not been published by the time the High Court reached its decision to set him free.  The same court which gave him his freedom then issued an order for his re-arrest, since when police have been unable to find him.

Last Thursday, the PP's official for legal affairs, Federico Trillo, called on the General Council of the Judiciary to examine "internal contradictions" in the High Court over early release guidelines for inmates.  The party is taking the view that High Court Chief Judge Javier Gómez Bermúdez should be held accountable for Troitiño's release, whether or not he was directly involved in the decision.  It says he should have been aware of the Supreme Court's ruling of March 28 which would have prevented giving Troitiño's his freedom.  The PP also says that Troitiño should have been monitored from the moment he left Huelva jail.

It is believed that Troitiño quickly crossed into France following his release and a watch was being kept on the offices of his lawyer which are located less than two kilometres over the border.  Police later said that they were not ruling out the possibility the he had already fled to Ireland or South America with the help of colleagues within ETA.

Thousands fined in phone-driving crackdown

Drivers also nabbed for GPS tinkering, headphone use and other distractions

By Dave Jamieson

THIS MONTH'S  crackdown on drivers who use mobile phones while at the wheel has led to almost 3,400 fines being issued for the offence.  Guardia Civil patrols stopped almost 400,000 vehicles during the seven-day campaign run by Tráfico to draw attention to the dangers of being distracted while driving.  It took in the whole of Spain except Cataluña and the Basque Country.

A total of 4,201 fines were issued, 85 per cent of them to drivers who were spotted talking on a mobile phone whilst driving.  According to a number of different studies, this practice multiplies the risk of having an accident by four, making it similar to the risks of driving whilst over the drink-drive limit.

As well as controlling the improper use of telephones, Guardia officers also monitored the use of GPS systems, which is considered a similar distraction to talking on the phone, and fined 38 drivers for programming their systems whilst driving.  A further 169 people were fined for using headphones or earphones connected to appliances other than telephones.

About a quarter of drivers stopped were using hands-free devices, a practice that is legal but is still considered to pose a risk in terms of reducing concentration whilst driving.

Tráfico says that year to date up to April 14, 168 people were killed in 329 fatal accidents on Spanish roads, and in 48 per cent of the incidents driver distraction was a contributing factor.