Fernando Garrido, head of the coastal authority, announced yesterday that a new plan for regenerating beaches damaged in last November's storms, will be posted for public inspection in the next few days. He announced that the new project will remove sand from a smaller area of the sea bed and called on the Balearic government to collaborate in the work, which he described as an “emergency.” Town councils have been demanding action, particularly as the tourist season is about to start. Garrido said that the new project had been “drawn up in a record time by the best scientists.” He added that careful attention had been paid to the ecosystems in the areas where most sand was needed and the sea bed from where it will be extracted. As a result of these studies, it was decided to change the area, and reduce it by a third from 159 to 65 hectares. The proposed site has also been moved so that it will be 200 metres from the meadows of Neptune grass. The sand will be extracted at a depth of 35 metres and 1'600 metres from the coast, Garrido said, stressing that the area where the sand will be extracted has an intense rate of sedimentation which will favour the recovery of the seabed. The extraction site has 20 million cubic metres of sand and the coastal authority plans to extract 150'000 cubic metres, for the beaches of Can Picafort and Muro, where, according to Garrido, “rocks are showing through the sand.” The cost of the operation will be in the region of 1'202'024 euros, and one of its guiding principles is the preservation of the meadows of Neptune grass. But, lamented Garrido, the Balearic government “continues to raise objections and we want to establish an understanding, bearing in mind that the problem requires an urgent solution and that the problem cannot be left to one side.” He said that the Balearics were bottom of the list for regeneration of beaches damaged in the storms, “and is the only community putting obstacles to the work.” The environment group GOB is opposed to the central ministry of the environment's use of a report by the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies as an argument in favour of the artificial regeneration of the beaches. In a communique, it said that artificial regeneration was unsustainable. It claims that the report does not diagnose the reasons why beaches in some areas lose sand so quickly, adding that it is probably due to bad management on the part of some town councils. It said that Muro, whose council is clamouring for artificial regeneration, is a case in point, because it removed the Neptune grass swept up on to the beach in winter in February. This leaves the beaches without protection and at the mercy of storms, the communique said. GOB said that beaches need management plans to tackle the problem of losing sand as artificial regeneration “is only a transitory solution, of between five and ten years, and therefore unsustainable.”

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