The environmental organisations Greenpeace and GOB yesterday blamed bad management on the part of the central ministry of the environment, for the loss of sand at the main beaches of the Balearics. The two organisations held a joint press conference yesterday on board the Greepeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, where they said that the ministry's policy over beaches was “unsustainable,” particularly in reference to artificial generation on which it will “waste” 200 million euros this year. Both organisations said that dredging sand from the sea bed and dumping it on to beaches was not a solution, and demonstrated a posture more fitting to the building and tourist trades than the ministry responsible for preserving the coast. Toni Muñoz, spokesman for GOB, said that the ministry, headed by former Balearic leader Jaume Matas, had chosen the artificial method because it was “fast, easy, has an impact on the sea bed which is not easily noticeable and does not enter into conflict with representatives of powerful interests.” But, he added, the effects on the environment “are very serious,” on the one hand because sand is removed from one area and put in another, and on the other because it damages the sea bed, including the Neptune grass, which helps protect the coast from erosion. The ministry was also criticised for allowing heavy machinery to be used to clean the beaches and removing Neptune grass washed up in winter, when it does not bother bathers and helps keep the sand in place during bad weather. María José Caballero, the co-ordinator of Greenpeace's coastal campaign, said that “some Majorcan councils who for years have managed the beaches inadequately are those which are now demanding artificial regeneration.” Both GOB and Greenpeace called for beach management involving several departments, not just tourism. Both organisations are in favour of planting species which grow on dunes and other more natural systems to restore the shoreline damaged by storms or other causes. They both agreed that current management of beaches had to be “corrected and reconsidered,” and accused the ministry of “giving in” to the pressure of tourist firms to regenerate the beaches and to “use” certain scientific bodies to justify its projects. Greenpeace said that the solution to the serious problem of coastal erosion had to be solved at the point of origin, by identifying and correcting factors which spoil the natural balance. This includes a halt to the construction of coastal amenities such as more marines, docks and breakwaters. Natural methods such as planting on the dunes or laying reed fences to favour sedimentation by the wind have been successful in the Balarics, although the central ministry, said Greenpeace, does not seem to favour this type of solution.

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