Although the beach is approximately 100 metres away, the salt lakes are a lot closer while a man-made canal is less than 20 metres from some of the houses.
Jane organised a meeting with the Mayor, Jose Maria Garcia Ruiz, who expressed a desire to help the unfortunate home owners, 80% of whom are foreigners. Sr. Garcia wanted to discuss the problem and convey his point of view on the subject.
This is not a problem caused by the Town Hall, but the mayor feels that they should be in contact with the people concerned, particularly those English speakers who may have missed out on some of the information and feel that they lack support. meeting took place at midday on Friday 2nd July, and the general feeling afterwards was one of hope. It appears that San Pedro Town Hall passed the local laws related to land for building, land for future building, protected land etc. etc. in 1985, and all the building in El Mojon has been done based on that law, completely correctly.
The Ley de Costas law was passed in 1988. This law gives powers to the Ministry of the Environment to enforce restrictions within a band of land all round the coast of Spain. It can override the authority of town halls etc. If in 1988 the people enforcing the Ley de Costas had approached San Pedro with their demands, there still would not have been a problem, as much of the land designated for building had still not been developed.
Instead they have waited until now, 2010, over 20 years later, to make their decision about the coastal area in El Mojon. This was done with no prior warning and without consultation in a completely arbitrary way. As well as affecting a number of residents, it also affects a private business, the "Salinera Española" which extracts salt from the salt lakes.
The way this extraction process works means that if this business was closed down it would literally destroy the ecological balance of the Salt Lakes.
The area of the Salt lakes in San Pedro is protected by regional laws, which means there are very strong pre-existing laws which prevent anyone interfering with the eco-system, including the flora and fauna, of the salt lakes.
On this basis, the mayor of San Pedro and his team of technicians have already presented a detailed complaint, based on legal grounds, against what the mayor called "disparate", which means "craziness" or "stupidity" of Costas. He is as confident as he can be that their complaint will override the decision of Costas as it is so clearly based on legal premises and it has to be judged by a judicial team.
If he is wrong and their allegations are rejected, there is still a legal process in which they can "counter-complain" etc. so there is a very long way to go before any final decision is made.
However, he is hopeful of a positive outcome, perhaps by the end of the year.
In the very worst case that they lose against Costas, all that this would mean is that the Ministry of the Environment would constitute a second authority, apart from the Town Hall, over the use of the land in El Mojon. In other words, if you wanted to do something to your house, you would have to ask for their permission as well as the Town Hall’s. However, in no way does it affect ownership, buying, selling and all the normal uses of a private property, so it appears there is nothing to fear.
The only restriction at present is that while the case is being decided, the Town Hall is not able to issue any new "licencias de obras" - work permits, for the affected properties. This process has to be suspended for now, but anyone who already had permission can continue with the work.
The mayor finished by saying that he wanted the residents of El Mojon to be assured of his solidarity with them on this matter and that the Town Hall staff are fighting the Ley de Costas as though the houses were their own.
Another town affected by the Ley de Costas is Guardamar. The Mayoress, Maryléne Albentosa, has approached the San Pedro Mayor to see if they can work together when it comes to fighting Costas. In Guardamar over 1,000 people are affected by the new law, along a stretch of coastline some 14.3km long.
Many of the Brits affected have contacted their MEPs, who have all promised to fight for their legal rights. Michael Cashman is looking into the matter in El Mojon, while UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen once again brought President Zapatero to task over his government's inaction on the demolition of coastal homes all over the country.
In a plenary session at the European Parliament she said, “Today I'm coming back here to remind you of the infamous Spanish land grab, a matter which I first brought to your attention in January. You have done nothing to resolve the menace affecting hundreds of thousands of people across Spain who face confiscation and demolition of their houses."
She added that the head of Andalusia's planning inspectorate had acknowledged that 300,000 houses are affected in that region alone. "This is not the handful of British citizens that some want us to believe," Ms Andreasen said.
A further 15,000 mostly British, Belgian, German and French property owners lodged a formal petition with MEPs four years ago in desperation over a 1994 Valencia land and town planning law which triggered 20,000 compulsory purchases of land or property for "urban" development.
Mr Zapatero said that the Courts are responsible for the application of law. "We stand shoulder to shoulder with those people, in this case British citizens, who, maybe, have had wool pulled over their eyes in the property sector.
But we are working with the parliamentary groups in the European Parliament. We are doing everything possible," Mr Zapatero said, claiming that this parliament had itself asked Spain to protect its coast and so environmental laws have to be observed.