According to the findings of an investigation carried out by the European Parliament Committee on Petitions local, regional or even national authorities do nothing to prevent irregularities occurring in the endless urban development taking place in Spain. This ever increasing development has resulted in the growth of urban populations sometimes to an unsustainable level with regards to available resources. Those most affected by this situation are the inhabitants of areas under development and the purchasers of new properties.
The European Committee on Petitions visited Almería, areas in the Sierra de Madrid and the Comunidad Valenciana while carrying out their investigations which took place following a UN report in December which concluded that there was little control placed on urban development in Spain.
The findings of this investigation also show that the application of land laws in some areas of Spain cause numerous problems and that there was lots of pressure on local authorities to commit to massive urban development projects.
The government of the Comunidad Valenciana received the harshest criticism. The Committee pointed out that this was the area where local residents were in most danger and where the authorities were the most uncooperative and the most arrogant in their attitude towards the Committee. Few explanations were offered to explain why many beautiful coastal areas had been destroyed for the sake of urban development.
Furthermore the Committee deeply regretted the fact that officials from the Ministry for Housing cancelled a meeting with them for reasons they ‘found hardly credible’.
The Committee on Petitions said that many citizens in Spain were being denied their legitimate rights when it came to land laws and urban development and this was especially true in the Comunidad Valenciana.
They found lots of cases where town halls had given the go ahead for massive building projects which had nothing to do with tourism or improving the area but in reality was down to greed. They found that there were many situations where residents saw the size of their local rural population grow disproportionately without receiving any benefits.
It also highlighted the prospering Spanish economy in recent years and asked how many Spanish owners of Construction Companies could be found in Forbes list of the 100 richest people in the world.
Another worrying observation was that citizens from elsewhere in Europe were buying properties in good faith only to find that they were forced to pay more in charges to the constructors than stipulated in the original agreement.
The management of water supplies and rubbish collection were found to be two of the most serious environmental consequences of massive urban development in the areas investigated.
The Committee also found evidence of money laundering.
However, as the European Committee on Petitions has limited powers, it has asked the European Commission to investigate possible cases where European law is being broken and to ensure that local and national authorities respect the law. The Committee also proposes that limits be placed on the excessive power enjoyed by constructors in Spain.
The report also suggests that special tribunals be set up in autonomous regions in Spain in order to look at compensation for those who have lost property through the application of land laws.