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European Journal

Spain: Relaxing coastal protection

Thousands of dwellings and beach bars threatened with demolition are being allowed to remain for the time being. Many owners are rejoicing, but there's also been a storm of criticism.

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A reform to the coastal protection law in Spain gives a 75-year amnesty to some 24,000 buildings that are very close to the coastline. Until now, the law had stipulated that the buildings be demolished, because the land along the shore is considered public property. Many foreigners in particular, whose banks had sold them plots of land as an investment, weren’t even aware of the regulation. Now they're relieved. But Spanish environmentalists are ringing alarm bells, saying the reform will bring more development to the coast and a sell-off of the beaches to private investors.