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Plenary members agree on outline of 14 projects this legislative session

ple agostParticipants at the August plenary meeting of the Formentera Council have unanimously agreed on a document—addressed to the Govern Balear—delineating the projects on Formentera that require Palma's attention. Consell Insular de Formentera spokesman, Bartomeu Escandell, noted that the outline followed on the heels of an earlier indication by the CiF president in a ceremony for Formentera's Diada de la Illa celebrations that such a measure would be struck across party lines.

The spokesman explained the three courses of action established by the document: improvements to town and country planning; changes to municipal codes/funding scheme improvements; and service improvements. Escandell thanked members of Formentera's different political parties for helping move the agreement forward, which he described as “the chief points we intend to have mark our action during this legislative session”.

Snake control
Members of the plenary also moved unanimously to recommend the Govern Balear initiate a campaign to bridle the importation of snakes. Councillor of environment Daisee Aguilera explained that the measure plenary members agreed to send Palma's environmental office “came on the heels of an observed proliferation of snakes in la Mola” and indicated that “the Conselleria de Medi Ambient is the office responsible for controlling the entry on the island of invasive species”.

The Friday plenary session additionally led to approval of propositions from the conservative party to urge action by the responsible authorities to regulate access to the Es Cap lighthouse and increase both cleaning and patrol operations in the surrounding area. Also approved was a second proposition by the Partido Popular to reinstate the art module at the level of bachillerato, the final two years of post-secondary education in Spain.

Finally, members approved propositions by the political group Compromís amb Formentera to improve trimming of trees that run alongside outdoor utility lines, create signage indicating the presence of beachside parking areas, voting on improvements to signage at heritage sites and making more informational signs on bins and at rubbish drop points.

Formentera ceases application of high-season water-saving measures

The CiF councillor of environment announced today that from tomorrow, Friday 28 August, the Formentera Council (Consell de Formentera, or CiF) will rescind the municipal proclamation regarding water-saving measures that had been in application during the midsummer months—“the period when water consumption is at its highest”.

Most critical period behind us
Now that the most critical phase is behind us, the administration will resume normal water use. In an attempt to avoid using up local water reserves, from 20 July the Council had applied the following water-saving measures at the internal level:
- Bring irrigation of public gardens to a minimum.
- Reserve water-intensive street cleaning operations for cases of absolute necessity.
- Suspend all dust-control waterings of dirt roads and parking lots.
- Suspend washes of Formentera Council vehicles.
- Apply generalised policies of responsible use and consumption.

Thanks given to the local population
Despite the end of these special measures, Councillor Aguilera stressed that “water is a scarce resource and, such being the case, we must always use it responsibly”. Aguilera thanked the people of the island for their cooperation following the recommendations that were made to private citizens:
- Bring watering of gardens to a minimum.
- Suspend recreational activities that require desalinated water (filling swimming pools).
- Avoid washing vehicles.
- Use water responsibly and reduce consumption to a maximum.

Guaranteed water reserves
“The period when water-use is typically at its highest now being over, and reserves from the Es Ca Marí water treatment plant now standing at roughly 30 percent, we consider that we have a supply that is sufficient to get us through the remainder of the summer without any service interruptions”, indicated the environmental councillor.

Technical failure at summer's start
Aguilera called to mind the breakdown in the desalination plant on 11 June which meant that for several days the supply of treated water was less than the demand. That provoked decreased water reserves in the reservoirs of the island. In consideration of that fact, the Formentera Council, “to avoid leaving reserves at zero, and aware that the second half of July and August are normally periods when water use outstrips desalination plant output”, put in place this internal measures.

Council backs declaration of Spanish Mediterranean as no-drill zone

silvia tur i daisee aguileraThe Formentera Council has backed a draft proposition presented earlier today by Sílvia Tur, the island's representative in the parliamentary group Mixt, which advocates the declaration of the exclusive economic zone of the Mediterranean watershed as a “maritime space free of prospecting, exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons”.

An ongoing threat
Formentera's councillor of environment, Daisee Aguilera, joined Ms Tur for a presentation of the proposal in a press conference held at the CiF plenary hall. Aguilera stressed the environmental and economic threat that such activity would pose. She also went further to say that, despite the fortunate stalling of a drilling project by Cairn Energy, “there exist other threats, such as petroleum exploration by Spectrum, which that company envisions could stretch from Cap de Creus to just nine nautical miles from Es Cap de Barbaria”. If those plans move forward, the Formentera administration will raise objections and—in the words of Councillor Aguilera—“another grassroots counter movement” would again be necessary.

Environmental protection
For her part, Tur—whose title is diputada—explained that the proposal was aimed at having the regional Balearic parliament urge the state government to pass “a specific law prohibiting prospecting, extractions and mining of hydrocarbons in the Spanish portion of the Mediterranean coast”. Moreover, whilst such a law is debated Ms Tur is requesting that a moratorium be placed on any new or existing plans. Tur also explained that, in cases where hydrocarbon drilling or prospecting permission has already been granted, the petition includes a request that companies be required to both “hermetically seal drilling platforms” and “completely dismount them when activity has concluded”. According to Tur, the approval of her proposal would “put in place specific environmental protections” and “see to it that the Spanish Mediterranean remain free of seismic activity, achieving real change for current energy and hydrocarbon policies”.

First official visit to Formentera by Govern president Francina Armengol

equip govern armengolFormentera Council president Jaume Ferrer, joined by the governing team of the administration, gathered today with the president of the Balearic community, Francina Armengol, to celebrate Armengol’s first official visit to the island. President Ferrer and his administration presented the Govern Balear chief with a list of 15 proposals ratified at the most recent Junta de Portaveus (“board of spokespersons”). The items on the list were described by the CiF president as “the principal needs of Formentera, for which the Govern’s collaboration is necessary”.
 
Sant Ferran school
According to Ferrer, construction of the Sant Ferran school is, given its importance for the island's educational infrastructure, one of the most critical petitions made by Formentera. For her part, Armengol voiced her assurance that she would defend Formenterers’ right to an education and committed to “making the Sant Ferran school a reality as soon as possible”.
 
The creation of an information desk to assist the public on housing issues (the placement of which has been suggested for the former seat of the Govern Balear in Formentera) was another topic of discussion between members of the two administrations. As the Council president related, other points were the need for new guidelines regulating maritime transport, anchorage along the Formentera coastline and improvements to local infrastructure such as the desalination plant, the water treatment plant, effluent drainage pipes and the implementation of an irrigation pond.
 
President Armengol indicated she agreed with the Formentera administration’s assessment of local needs, adding: “When there are shared political priorities we are that much more likely to see projects move forward”. The envisioned projects would all be discussed at the upcoming Conferència de Presidents, a gathering Armengol announced was slated for September.
 
A sustainable island
Armengol also committed to searching for a solution to the issue of transporting waste away from Formentera. In the words of the Govern Balear head: “Just like the Formentera Council, the Govern Balear is taking steps to invest in an economic model based on sustainability. Our hope is that Formentera become a symbol of environmental sustainability for the entire Mediterranean”. Finally, President Armengol asserted that her administration would work toward transferring tourism promotions to the local councils, and that the change would be accompanied by ample financial backing.  

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