MORE INVESTIGATIONS WERE OPENED LAST YEAR

THE Council of Majorca has decided to take a tough stance on illegal building and has ordered the demolition of several buildings constructed without permits. So far the Council's planning department has ordered the demolition of 13 constructions which went up without permits of any kind. The decisions are final, have not been appealed against, or the court has already ruled in the Council's favour. Miquel Angel Grimalt said that there are about 30 resolutions which are not final, as appeals are still being heard in court. The demolition order is the last stage of a long administrative process which the Council starts once an illegal construction is detected. The first step is to open an investigation to decide whether or not there has been an infraction. In most cases, as well as a fine, the sanction also involves the demolition of the illegal building. Grimalt explained that two of the cases call for the complete demolition of houses built illegally in rural areas. In another case, a man must restore a road which was asphalted in a protected area. Last year, the Council opened 159 investigations for breaking planning regulations, an increase of 31 per cent over the previous year. Most of the infractions involved rural land, but a considerable number were committed on land where building is allowed. Artà was the municipality with the most offenders, with 25 investigations opened last year. Palma and Pollensa have 13 each and Alcudia has 11. But when it comes to accumulated investigations, Santa Margalida tops the list with 30, followed by Artà and Pollensa with 28 each and Palma with 22, then Alcudia with 20 and Andratx and Muro with 18. But if the number of investigations opened rose by 31 per cent, the number of fines imposed dropped by nearly 50 per cent to 26, which came to a total of 836'976 euros. The crackdown on illegal building started in 1995, when the Progress Pact coalition entered the Council of Majorca. Public works minister Francesc Quetglas, who at the time headed the planning department, made it a priority to fight illegal construction. The fact that more investigations have been opened this year does not necessarily mean that there is more illegal building, it is, rather, that there are more inspections, making it easier to detect them.

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