Ibiza Island is located at the Balearic Islands and has an estimated population of 130.000 people. Its main economic activity is tourism. There is a huge range of hotels, restaurants, bars and discos, as well as more than 70 beaches and coves spread through the coastline of the island. It is definitely an appealing destination amongst tourist, especially during summer.
The main goal aimed at the expansion of the port of Ibiza is to promote tourism. This expansion is divided in three major projects:
- The breakwater of Botafoch.
- The esplanade and commercial docks sheltered at the breakwater of Botafoch.
- The new passenger terminal.
The construction of the esplanade and commercial docks, as well as the new passenger terminal, has a principal target: increase the berthing capacity for large cruise ships and make Ibiza an attractive stop for large shipping companies. In addition, it is intended to decongest the area of Marina by moving the traffic related to the port and providing the area with pedestrian walkways, shopping areas…Altogether, these projects place Ibiza in a great position in Europe, providing the island with a powerful and modern infrastructure capable of receiving a huge number of tourists on cruise stopovers.
Furthermore, they are outstanding projects using cutting-edge techniques in construction. In this respect, the most interesting project is the esplanade and commercial docks sheltered at the breakwater of Botafoch. This project consists of three different parts:
- Wharf of drawers.
- Wharf of piles: the real jewel of the project. Osterberg cells were used in its construction, which allowed calculating the exact strength of the piles and save money.
- Esplanade, where a modern drainage system known as “slott-drain” was used.
Any port project affects the morphology of the coast and in this case is no different. The construction of the breakwater, the esplanade and the wharfs has caused a great change in the coastline of the island.
In addition to this variation on the coastline, oceanic fauna and flora can be seriously affected because of this project. In order to gain sea space, 500.000 m3 of material were dredged from the bottom of the bay and dumped into the sea. Seafloor dredged materials were discharged into the sea at one defined point in order to minimise the impact as much as possible. This discharging point must be placed at a minimum distance away from the coast and other locations with environmental value.
In the case of Ibiza it is needed to take into account the posidonia seabeds surrounding the island that have been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The nature reserve of Ses Salines could also be affected in case of dumping, due to the closeness of the construction.
Therefore, many environmental organizations claimed (and still do) that such works attacked in a major way the marine environment, concluding that they should have never been authorised. Also an alleged case of power dealing regarding to the awarding of contracts for the supply of aggregates for construction gained importance on the local media.
The site management took appropriate measures to monitor the environmental guidelines. The total cost associated with the environmental control rose to 6.5 million euros. It can be concluded that the environment issues had great influence on the development of these projects.
The total cost of the commercial docks and the esplanade as a whole amounts to 77 million euros. Furthermore, the new passenger terminal would be fully operational in 2016. In 2012 a substantial part of the project was concluded, allowing the berthing of major cruises. This improvement helped reaching the highest record of cruise passengers received by the island. This data was not very revealing since an exciting new framework calls the attention of large companies at first. During the next two years the number of tourists dropped considerably.
Therefore it is needed to wait until 2016, when the maritime station would be fully operational, in order to check if such ambitious projects meet their purposes or they prove to be oversized.
Spain is a leading country in bidding for public works but often the need for such public works is compromised. For instance, Castellón Airport is the most eye-catching example of waste carried out by the government and it should not be repeated in the future. Therefore it is not absurd to establish that the project to enlarge the port of Ibiza is too ambitious regarding the real needs of the island, but only time will prove this statement.
Juan Manuel Míguez