“It is a scandal that all regulations are not complied with”

“It is a scandal that all regulations are not complied with”
“It is a scandal that all regulations are not complied with”

Custom weddings on the beach. This is one of the services offered by the Collados Beach venue —in La Manga del Mar Menor— to its clients. The problem is that it does so on a protected beach in the Parque de las Salinas de San Pedro, and against current regulations. The Coastal Demarcation, dependent on the Ministry for Ecological Transition, points out in a document to which elDiario.es had access that “these weddings do not have the required authorisation, which in no case could be granted in accordance with article 66 of the General Coastal Regulations as it is not an urban stretch of beach.”

The Murcian Ministry of the Environment also stresses that Collados Beach does not have permission to occupy the Maritime-Terrestrial Public Domain with temporary facilities for weddings. “A report of non-compliance has been drawn up on 27 June and the documentation has been sent to the Coastal Department,” they say. The ‘altar’ where the weddings are celebrated – the same sources continue – is within the area of ​​the San Pedro Regional Park, for which reason “a sanctioning procedure has also been opened for non-compliance with the Natural Resources Management Plan (PORN)”.

“It is a priority reserve area, in which only activities linked to research and restoration of the natural environment are permitted, and not public use,” Jorge Sánchez, a biologist from the Association of Naturalists of the Southeast (Anse), who have been working on this file since 2019, told elDiario.es.

“The activity of Collados Beach is preventing vegetation from establishing itself correctly and is affecting its habitats of community interest, wild flora and bird nesting. In addition, it is the only leisure facility in the Park that is located in a priority area,” continues the environmentalist, who emphasises that the establishment is in demand because it was established as a beach club “but carries out other activities oriented towards gastronomy or the celebration of weddings, communions and other events, in breach of regulations, which is a scandal.”

Collados Beach assures that they have taken “measures”

Collados Beach has assured this newspaper that they have already adopted “corrective measures” to ensure that “weddings held beyond the space we have authorised for this purpose” do not happen again.

The Collados Beach complex guarantees on its website “a haven of relaxation during the day and a paradise of fun at night; all the areas that we see reflected in the architecture of Collados Beach are characterised by their rounded shapes like dunes and by their successful visual integration with the surroundings in which they rest,” they explain. The establishment belongs to the Murcia-based Orenes group, one of the largest owners of casinos, bingo halls and betting shops in Spain and abroad.

“Tacit agreement to allow them these activities”

“They have been fined on several occasions,” says the Anse biologist, “but they are in rebellion, and that is partly because there is a tacit agreement with the administrations to allow these activities.” On the Esculls de la Llana and Encañizada beaches “cleaning and the entry of tractors to remove algae is prohibited and the only point where an exception is made to allow it is this one, in front of the beach bar.”

The Coastal Department of the Ministry for Ecological Transition, in a letter dated June 22, points out that it has learned that on the Collados Beach website “it is specified that they have different areas to celebrate the ceremony, the cocktail, the banquet, as well as the after-party for more than 300 guests; in the same dossier the beach is included for the celebration and on page 14 a price of 300 euros is established for pre- and post-event cleaning”. From this, the Ministry continues, it can be deduced that the use of the beach is being publicly offered to celebrate weddings, warning that a price will be charged for it.

The Esculls de la Llana and Encañizada beaches are partially included in the Protected Natural Area of ​​the Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro del Pinatar Regional Park, and are also included in the Priority Conservation Zone of the Natural Resources Management Plan (PORN) due to their high natural value, so public use must be very restricted, a point that Anse has repeatedly denounced in recent years.

The Coastal Demarcation document also indicates that the beach is a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) and a Special Conservation Area (ZEC) for the Mar Menor Wetland and the Eastern Mediterranean Zone of the Region of Murcia. “Therefore, regardless of the actions that this Demarcation is carrying out, it is brought to the attention of the San Javier City Council,” they point out.

Indeed, the City Council confirms that it has received a letter from the Coastal Demarcation, in which it requests its collaboration, “since surveillance and action in the Maritime-Terrestrial Public Domain is an exclusive competence of the State”. A collaboration, they add, that has already been provided for some time “and which consists of informing them of the carrying out of this type of activities on the beach when they are detected by the Local Police”.

This situation has been going on for a long time. Anse began to report it in 2019, in August of that year – they recall – there was already a suspension order. And they add that the restoration activity of the facility “is contrary to the Subsidiary Standards of San Javier, as ruled by the Legal Council of the Region of Murcia in a consultation on this case raised by the mayor of San Javier”, Javier Luengo (PP).

San Javier Town Hall, however, claims that Collados Beach has a licence to operate as a hospitality establishment because it meets all the requirements and the beach is cleaned regularly, “following, in addition, the guidelines of the General Directorate of Natural Heritage, as it is a protected area”.

Cleaning linked to tractors of the San Javier City Council

Environmentalists have denounced the “periodic” cleaning of the beach (removal of Posidonia debris), “in many cases at night, by tractors linked to the San Javier Town Hall”. They specify that the use of machinery for beach cleaning “is not authorised by the PORN and may be affecting endangered species such as the Kentish plover, a species considered to be in danger, which nests on beaches and for which Las Encañizadas is an important location”.

In fact, they continue from Anse, the tasks with machinery “have already affected various species of protected flora such as the Senecio glaucu“The Mar Menor asparagus fern is about to be included in the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species.” And -they point out- “it is also possible that a possible nesting of loggerhead turtles on the protected beach could be affected.”

Orenes claims to have no record of “any file in relation to this matter”. “What we can say is that we do the cleaning by hand, by a person in charge of it, complying with the applicable regulations, ensuring the care of the environment at all times,” they add.

The responsibilities of this area are shared by the Coasts, as it is a Maritime Terrestrial Public Domain (DPMT), by the Community, as it belongs to a protected area, and by the San Javier City Council, because in this case it is responsible for authorising the operation of the hospitality establishment and cleaning the beach.

According to Anse, the events have been taking place since 2019, when the Association submitted various complaints; at that time, weddings were celebrated with the use of fireworks. Similar events, they continue, were repeated in 2021 and 2022, “although during the pandemic the pressure on this part of the Regional Park was temporarily reduced.”

On the other hand, according to what ANSE technicians have been able to confirm, “navigation and anchoring of boats is a constant in the Encañizadas, despite being prohibited by article 56 of the PORN, which may be affecting the submerged communities and protected species that inhabit the Encañizadas”.

 
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