The extraction of sand from the seabed off Banyalbufar to regnerate storm damaged beaches has had a bigger impact on the environment, because recommendations from Imedea (the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies) were not followed by the coastal authority. Imedea scientists Carlos Duarte and Nuria Marbà made the claim yesterday. The coastal authority, which depends on the central ministry of the environment, had commissioned a survey by Imedea before starting work in April. The report, compiled by Duarte and Marbà, recommeded that the dredging should not go deeper than 30 centimetres. However, tests later showed that the depth was more than 50 centimetres and even as much as a metre at some points. Duarte says that the impact caused by the extraction means that it will take longer for the seabed to recover. He recommended a follow-up study to be made, adding that it should have started immediately after the extraction, to evaluate the impact. He also stressed the need for a 20 moratorium to be applied on future extractions from this area, to allow the seabed to recover fully. The sand was lifted from the seabed by the Volvox Iberia, which arrived in April and removed 150'000 cubic metres of sand, despite the protests from the Balearic government, the Banyalbufar council and environmental groups, who were all in favour of allowing the beaches to regenerate themselves in a natural manner. However, the councils of tourist resorts, particularly those in the north of the island, were eager to have the beaches restored as soon as possible, in time for the summer season. The dispute led to bitter clashes between central minister of the environment, former Balearic government leader Jaume Matas, and local environment minister Margalida Rosselló of the Greens (Els Verds).

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