After months of difficult negotiations the Balearic Islands regional government, Ibiza’s Island Council, Ibiza town’s city government and the Balearic Islands harbour authorities have approved a final project for harbour expansion. According to information provided by the president of the harbour authority, Francesc Triay, they have decided upon a slightly modified version of the original plan. Critics of the plan for construction near ‘es Botafoch’ had described it as oversized, and it appears concessions have been made to allay these fears. Triay said he expects construction to start in autumn and that it will probably cost about 81 million euros.
The expansion, which has been planned for years, has as its primary goal the removal of the large ferry and transport ships from Ibiza town’s inner harbour to an area between Marina Botafoch and the es Botafoch lighthouse. The authorities hope this will lead to a revitalisation of Ibiza town’s historic fishing quarter. “It will greatly increase the quality of life in the neighbourhood when people can take an undisturbed walk down the promenade,” believes Ibiza town’s mayor Lurdes Costa (PSOE). On the other hand, ferry operators have been requesting more space for years in order to provide their customers with appropriate services, including modern access ramps and gastronomy.
The first construction phase, which the harbour authorities say could take up to 31 months, sees the creation of a 63,000 square metre area and two docking piers. The original plans called for 80,000 square metres. Mr. Triay said, “We reduced it to avoid drawing out the negotiations even longer.” However, they appear to be happy with the new plan. He further stated, “Service for ferry passengers will improve considerably with the project.” Additionally, cruise ships and leisure yachts will profit from the restructuring in the new plan and the improvement in space created in the inner harbour.
Mr. Triay also explained that neither the Ses Feixes swamplands nor the s’Illa Plana housing area would be threatened by the harbour project. Triay said, “The access to the new pier will not compromise Ses Feixes and there will be no tunnel constructed beneath s’Illa Plana.” – specifically sending a message to environmentalists and the left-leaning coalition partner of the Social Democrats on the Island Council and Ibiza town’s city hall, the regional Eivissa per Canvi (ExC) party.
Island Council president Xico Tarres (PSOE) fleshed the statement out further, declaring that traffic for the new harbour would be routed along the current Avenida 8 d’Agost, as it meets all of the structural requirements for the increase in traffic. He added, “And if that should not be the case then we will find a different solution.”
The Ibicencan Social Democrats went for it alone in approving this project, which did not sit well with their coalition partner ExC. Just a few months earlier the ExC had submitted their own expansion project that was rejected by all of the decision makers in Madrid, Palma and Ibiza. “We are very upset at how the Social Democrats have conducted themselves,” said ExC spokesperson Josep Maria Gari. However, during a specially called party conference there was no mention of ending the coalition. Mr. Gari further said, “The harbour project was very important for us, however we must appreciate that we can only help shape the island’s future by continuing our work within government.”