LAND LAW ROW GROWS

According to a report in El Pais newspaper last week, the United Kingdom and Germany have asked Spain for explanations about what they consider to be abusive expropriations of property owned by their citizens here. Britain has already asked for information from both the Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, and the Spanish ambassador in London. Thousands of foreigners and Spaniards are affected by the Ley de Costas, Coasts Law, which came into force in 1988, but remained largely unenforced until 2004 when Cristina Narbona was appointed Environment Minister. The law forbids building on coastline land and states that those built before 1988 will be expropriated by the state, which will give the owners a 30-year use of the property, to be extended to 60 years in some cases. The paper cites the case of the Briton Cliff Carter and others at the La Casbah urbanisation in El Saler in Valencia. In a statement, the Environment Ministry said it has no intention of changing the current legislation. British consuls are reported to be recommending British citizens to complain to the Defensor del Pueblo, the Spanish ombudsman, or to take their case to the European Parliament which has already been informed of the problem. Britain said she understands that Spain wants to limit construction along the coast, but they do not share the method by which they are expropriating property, considering that it affects those who have purchased in good faith.

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