What the new government should do for the Costa del Sol

The below article was written prior to the elections last Sunday, but is still of interest as it looks at many of the urban projects that are still pending and will be beneficial to the Costa del Sol property.

No matter which party wins the general election on Sunday, the new Government is going to have to deal with a number of matters in the province of Malaga which have been pending for many years, even though this time of economic crisis may not be the ideal moment. The conversion of the Benítez military camp into a park, the remodelling of the Baños del Carmen, the northern access to the airport, the coastal railway, the Antequera rail test ‘ring’ and the construction of sewage plants are some of the main projects which are still outstanding.

The Baños del Carmen are a good example of an ‘eternally pending’ project in Malaga. It has already been delayed by more than a decade and it was only last year that the Ministry of the Environment finally approved the plans to recuperate this lovely spot on the coast of the provincial capital. The total cost will be 13 million euros and 400,000 euros have been included in this year’s budget so that the project can be put to tender.

Outside Malaga city, essential projects include the construction of the pioneer rail test ring which is planned for the Vega de Antequera. This will be 57.9 kilometres in length, will cost over 400 million euros and trains will be able to reach up to 450 kilometres per hour. The new Government, together with other public administrations, will also have to set to work on the creation of a coastal railway line between Malaga and Estepona. The Ministry of Public Works and the Junta de Andalucía signed the protocol this week but its high cost – five billion euros – will make it very difficult to put into effect at the moment.

Access to Arroyo
The Government will also have to consider a number of measures which would greatly improve the daily life of people in Malaga province. One of the most important is the modification of the Arroyo de la Miel exit from the A-7, which is notorious for traffic congestion, along with the construction of the northern access to the airport from the new second ring road, the plans for which were also drawn up about four years ago, and an extension to the suburban railway to reach the Andalucía Technology Park. This would also mean that the local railway would be extended to Campanillas, which is where major residential expansion will take place in forthcoming years.

The Government will also have to take action on sewage plants if it is to comply with the EU demand for a ‘zero waste’ limit to be attained by 2015; this would also improve the quality of the beaches and help tourism. Nerja still does not have a sewage plant and is the only large municipality on the Malaga coast to lack such a facility, and Estepona’s sewage plant needs to be enlarged. With regard to water supply, the project to build a 61.7 million desalination plant at Mijas is waiting to go ahead when the local council hands over the land.

In Marbella, numerous projects are pending including the coastal railway which will be a great advantage to this, the only town in Spain with a population of over 100,000 which has no railway station. In the shorter term, the main concern is the road tunnel at San Pedro. This project is very advanced and is expected to be ready for the Ministry of Public Works to carry out the safety checks and arrange its inauguration by the end of this year. The Government will also have to decide whether or not to reactivate the project to eliminate the direct accesses onto the A-7, something which Marbella council has been demanding for years. The 54 million euro was among those dropped last year to save money.

On economic matters, the new Government will also be faced with a request from Marbella council to help with the 300 million euro debt with Social Security and the tax authority, which arose from non-payment during the GIL era. The local authority is having to pay one million euros a month, just in interest, and this is severely affecting the municipal coffers.

Finally, Marbella’s list includes two environmental projects. One is to stabilise the beaches: the survey to determine what measures should be adopted to stop the loss of sand is being carried out in Marbella but has been suspended for technical reasons in San Pedro. These reports are expected to cost 400,000 euros. The other major project is the recuperation of the sand dunes at Artola, Bahía de Marbella and Real Zaragoza.

New police stations and seafront promenades
As well as major infrastructure works, the central government will also have to deal with matters which may be smaller and less important but are still necessary, including the construction of new Guardia Civil and National Police stations.

In Mijas, a plot of land has been set aside for a Guardia Civil barracks but definitive plans have never been provided by the Government. In Alhaurín de la Torre, a 5,000 square metre piece of land was reserved for the same reason five years ago. In Antequera, construction of the new Guardia Civil barracks began three years ago but has been suspended due to lack of funds. Benalmádena and Vélez-Málaga are also still waiting for their new police stations, having provided suitable sites nearly four years ago.

Many local councils also hope that the Government will take action to improve seafront promenades and beaches.

Fuengirola, for example, has been waiting since 2004 for the final stretch of the promenade at Carvajal to be finished and has even taken legal action to try to resolve the matter. Rincón de la Victoria has never received the plans for improvements to the promenade at Torre de Benagalbón and in Vélez the promenade at Chilches and the recovery of the beaches at Mezquitilla and Lagos are still pending, as is the regeneration of the Ferrara beach in Torrox which was badly damaged by the storms.

Inland, the high speed AVE railway line which will connect Antequera with Algeciras is something which has been discussed for many years but this too is still pending.

Source: Sur in English

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