The major challenges are outlined in case studies from Spain, Malta, Greece and Israel included in the Mare Nostrum second report, entitled Existing Practices and Impediments to Implementation: The Local and Cross-National Level. The 467-page document represents an important step for Mare Nostrum towards formulating strategies for improvement.
The main barriers include lack of cooperation among different government bodies, insufficient translation of regulations on paper into action, clientelism, a lack of political will to carry out reforms to update and enforce environmental legislation.
In addition, a tendency to forgive developers for illegal construction and grant it legitimacy once it’s built, problems in clearly defining the public domain coastal setback, and loopholes and vagueness undermining existing legislation have all been identified as the main impediments.
“The gaps to implementation go to the heart of what Mare Nostrum aims to achieve,” said Mare Nostrum project initiator and coordinator Prof. Rachelle Alterman from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. “Mare Nostrum aims to clearly point to the gaps and suggest tools to overcome them. This report lays some of the foundation for this work.”
“The second step is to identify a baseline between the case studies is through recognizing the impediments to implementation of the previous local legal or institutional tools,” noted Dr. Konstantinos Lalenis, Associate Professor at the University of Thessaly, who edited the report with Ioannis Papatheocharis.
While every country has its own history and policy milestones, commonalities clearly emerged in the challenges they have faced. Setting the public domain setback on the coast, for instance, often faces technical difficulties and resistance from those holding property or construction rights within the affected areas.
Across the Mediterranean, illegal construction is often excused after the fact through various mechanisms, or even permitted through contradictions among government bodies beforehand.
In Greece, for instance, “Illegal behaviors, concerning illegal building in the coastal areas, are systematically ‘forgiven’ by the Greek legislation, through simple financial procedures.” In Israel, “no retroactive force of planning laws offers immunity to past mistakes and illegalities.”
In Malta, it was noted that one particular public figure, an architect and ex-mayor, in 2005 had fully 23 planning applications located in zones where no development was supposed to take place. “MEPA planning officers recommended them for refusal, but then different boards within the authority gave the approval.”
In Spain, “although the LC88 [coastal] regulation is clear in terms of limiting the surface area of [beach bars], breaches sometimes occur […]. In [La Albufera, Valencia], the Local Administration has backed the interests of the concessionaires of these establishments, full-aware however that the occupied surface areas exceed those provided for in the LC88 and its regulations.”
There are some attempts to curb these phenomena, however. In Spain’s Bay of Alicante, the different government bodies signed a joint protocol pledging to work together towards consensus on decisions regarding ICZM implementation.Leave a reply →