The Valencia regional government has issued a decree that will allow individual councils to submit plans for the expansion of existing leisure harbours along the Costa Blanca

With waiting lists for marina berths exceeding availability, the Valencia regional government has this week issued a decree that will allow individual councils to submit plans for the expansion of existing leisure harbours along the Costa Blanca if they consider that they have reached full capacity.

Currently Alicante accounts for 46 per cent of the region’s berths with the number of registered boats predicted to increase from 20,000 to 25,000 by 2003.

A regional government spokesmen said that expanding existing facilities would have far less environmental impact on the coast as opposed to creating leisure harbours in new zones.

However, the liberalising of existing rules by the Public Works and Urbanisation Ministries does not signal indiscriminate authorisation to developers because port and water sports installations must still conform to the regional plan.

With the 18 leisure harbours in the Valencia region already at bursting point, regional government hopes the new legislation will enable councils to satisfy the high demand from the leisure sector without jeopardising the environment.

Environmentalist are however in an uproar as they see the move as an opportunity for developers and councils to expand their water sports facilities into previously protected areas. They claim the decree will open the gate to uncontrolled development and see the destruction of many of the Costa Blanca’s delicate and protected eco systems.