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Environmental protecctions, housing and solar energy top list of proposals approved at ‘state of Formentera’

foto 2021 debat estat 2Members of local government gathered today for the second day of discussion around the state of island affairs, a meeting that brought cross-party support for all twelve of the cabinet’s proposed measures. Unanimous backing also came for nine of the proposals that were tabled by the opposition, while the remaining three stalled — one after the assembly rejected it outright and another when it was retracted by its proponents. All told, 21 of 23 proposals on the docket met with unanimous support.

Cabinet proposals: Gent x Formentera and PSIB-PSOE

Protecting Formentera
Councillors came together to support the proposed creation of new projects and new models of local environmental protections. Top ranking official and tourism chief Alejandra Ferrer said the initiative would “lay the groundwork for dialogue between the Consell and islanders, by way of Formentera’s league of community organisations, on emerging threats to the local ecosystems on land and at sea”, and described it as “a necessary precursor to discussion around new projects and protections”. “This is about engaging all of Formentera in reflection on the unprecedented challenges we face, and building consensus around what the response will look like”, she stated.

Councillors voted in unison to press regional government to develop a Formentera-specific approach to guaranteeing access to housing as it has been done elsewhere in the archipelago. Decision-makers agreed the Govern balear should consider local needs and work with Formentera’s leaders on appropriate partnership agreements that would enable a bureau to focus squarely on helping Formentera residents access housing. Deputy chair and housing chief Ana Juan highlighted regional legislation in place requiring legal and administrative support and other services, and said work was needed to adapt such a service to Formentera.

Solar energy
Councillors struck unity again on three proposals to foment solar energy. First, on property tax rebates for people and businesses that install photovoltaic panels. Finance and tax office chief Bartomeu Escandell said the initiative prioritised tax rebates as a way to “promote self-supply installations and increase production of energy here on the island”. “If we can promote installation of solar panels, we can make Formentera more sustainable”, he insisted.

Land chief Rafael González described an ultimately successful change in local planning regulations that will make solar panel production systems mandatory in all new buildings as “making Formentera a more sustainable island in terms of energy self-sufficiency”. The new requirement will further support local production by impacting refurbished and expanded buildings too.

Finally, decision-makers highlighted the need for work at the national, regional and local to fit government buildings with solar panels. “This is about reducing our carbon footprint, building a future where in which we can successfully tackle climate change and turning Formentera into an island that can meet its own energy needs”, said environment chief Antonio J Sanz. “For Formentera to continue being Formentera, change isn’t just important, it’s imperative”, he continued. “Climate change is here, but there’s still time to stop it, and that can happen with the help of measures like this one”, Sanz asserted.

The plenary also gave unanimous backing to the planned creation of a centre for entrepreneurship, expertise, training and business to promote socioeconomic growth, create jobs and support business owners. Besides “a place of support and orientation for people starting a business, a business incubator and co-working space all rolled into one”, the chief of the entrepreneurship department cast the centre as “a way to support other types of business, and, why not, a draw for tourists planning on working here during their stay”.

Also winning cross-party support was a proposal on scholarships to offset the insularity typical of life on an island. According to education and culture chief Susana Labrador, “This is a way to urge the national and regional authorities to ensure these scholarships reflect our triple insularity, recognising how crucial it is that youth leave the island to study and expand their educational horizons. It’s fundamental to guaranteeing equal opportunities and accounting for associated costs.” Labrador said that student financial aid and pandemic-related expansions delivered by the island’s government weren’t enough, and insisted that “the agencies responsible need to do more to help if they are serious about equal opportunities and making sure families aren’t the ones picking up the extra slack”.

Social services
Another moment of unity came when councillors greenlighted a proposal to draft a guide for resources, support and services available to Formentera families, with department chief Rafael Ramírez imagining “an exhaustive source of information for families that’s straightforward and to the point”.

Normalising use of Catalan
On linguistic normalisation, plenary members agreed to press the Consell to review, amend and update its charter on language use. Department chief Raquel Guasch pointed out that “islanders, the island and our government have changed since the document was created in 2001”, and called the revision “key to keeping the charter in step with reality. The sooner we do it, the better”.

El Mollet des Caló
A proposal was adopted with cross-party support to urge the Balearic Islands coastal authority to refurbish el Mollet des Caló, preserving the structure to ensure the integrity of the dock and the identity of es Caló. Infrastructures and rural affairs chief Josep Marí said es Caló residents had long pushed for the repairs, and Formentera’s government led the charge on a similar effort in 2017, but it failed to get off the ground. “That’s why we’re asking the coastal authority to take the lead on this much-needed work once and for all”.

Protecting ses Salines reserve
In another motion that won unanimous approval, assembly members urged the Spanish government to ramp up police patrols at the ses Salines reserve. They also pressed the Balearic government to hire more staff and, in so doing, ensure the effectiveness of environmental protections in land and sea areas of ses Salines and keep them in step with local needs. Councillors also highlighted the importance of policing and penalising activities that are not permitted in protected sites. After praising the efforts of police and security forces, Councillor Sanz affirmed, “We often aren’t able to control all of our protected areas”, and, “The ultimate aim is to protect our environment and our island”.

Aid for agriculture
The first proposal of the GxF-PSOE cabinet involved extending support for professionals in the primary sector and was adopted unanimously. In it, local decision-makers “urge the Consell de Formentera to extend assistance to agricultural workers to help diversify the economy and encourage quality local produce”. Rural affairs chief Josep Marí explained it thus: “It’s about creating new lines of subsidies to increase the support we give to the sector. The recovery of the countryside is visible thanks to the local farmers’ co-operative, which has become the driving force in agriculture and has encouraged new entry into the field. To continue with this momentum, we’ll be pursuing assorted avenues, including subsidies for biodegradable materials and ways to protect heirloom species and the agricultural landscape”.

Grup Sa Unió de Formentera PP-Compromís
Of the 12 proposals presented by the opposition, one was withdrawn, two was rejected and the following nine adopted with unanimous support:

- To press local government to urgently address the second phase of the improvements on the road to es Cap de Barbaria.
- To press local government to draft and tender improvements on the road to Cala Saona.
- A cabinet-brokered measure to press the EU, the government of Spain, the Balearic government, the Consell Insular de Formentera and every government agency that deals with immigration to implement appropriate collaborative measures within their sphere of competence to provide urgent, effective and permanent responses to the current migratory challenge.
- A cabinet- and opposition-backed motion to press local government to continue promoting the primary sector to finalise and implement a project encompassing, showcasing and regulating locally sourced produce.
- To press regional government to urgently adopt a downward revision of water prices per measures adopted by the Formentera plenary.
- To press local government to finalise its registry of municipal positions and to implement a position that was adopted in plenary in 2019 and which secured funding as part of the Consell’s 2021 spending plan.
- A cabinet-brokered motion to press local government to engage in public consultation on groundwork for regulation of s’Estany des Peix, ensuring the participation of users on one hand and Consell d’Entitats member groups as well.
- To press local government to urgently tender Formentera’s public transport contract.
- To press local government to award the contract for waste management as soon as possible and per the established timeline.

16 June 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera relaxes restrictions amid improving Covid figures, but complying with public health rules still key

foto 2021 nova relaxacioConsell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer and the Balearic director of public health, Maria Antònia Font, held a press conference today 15 June at 6.00pm at the seat of local government to assess the epidemiological situation on the island and announce new public health measures in place from next Saturday. Formentera and the rest of the islands will remain at tier 1 of public health alert.

Ferrer said the island’s current Covid-19 figures were “positive”: “We’ve got five cases right now and everyone is at home with home care”. The cumulative incidence in the last 14 days is one per 100,000 and the positivity rate is 1.37%.

The figures fit snugly with what Ferrer described as a “good start to the season”. She praised “regular islanders and businesses for the effort they’ve made and continue to make to comply with constraints stemming from public health rules. Now that we’re loosening restrictions in light of improving Covid figures, we’re asking once again for help from residents and the island’s business community”.

Ms Font said the decision by the Govern to relax some of the exceptional and temporary constraints geared toward stopping spread of Covid-19, including the freeze on nightlife activity, stemmed from the fact that Formentera was the island with the best situation today, with an accumulated incidence of 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Bars and restaurants on all the islands may now open more hours as well, she said, and most services and facilities may now open at 75% capacity.

New measures

Social gatherings
There are no limitations on gatherings between friends and family, but caution is encouraged and measures devised to prevent Covid-19 spread, like promoting outdoor activities, should still be followed. Groups should limit their size to 15 when outdoors and 10 indoors.

Restaurants may open until 2.00am indoors and out. No more than six to a table inside, where seating shall be limited to 50%. At no time shall the total number of patrons exceed 150.

Up to 12 people per table are allowed outdoors, where restaurants can observe normal capacity provided the number of customers does not exceed 250.

Diners must stay 1.5m apart, wear masks and follow protocol at all times.

Cafés that offer entertainment, bars with food and normal bars may open in accordance with regulations applicable to the hospitality sector. Whether indoors or out, food and drinks may be consumed but this must be done while seated at the table, with 6 people per table inside and 12 people per table out. Diners who are not eating or drinking must wear a mask. Establishments must close by 2.00am at the latest, or earlier if so dictated by their licence. Dancing is not permitted indoors or outdoors.

Nightclubs must remain closed.

Beaches and similar open-air public spaces will remain closed between 12 midnight and 6.00pm.

Local shops may open till 12 midnight at full capacity. Other measures —masks, social distancing, ventilation, hygiene— will also be required to prevent the spread of Covid.

The preceding measures will be approved Friday by the governing council and will come into force after their publication Saturday in the Balearic gazette.

Checks at ports and airports
In addition to measures to be approved on Friday in the extraordinary session of the governing council, domestic travellers arriving in the Balearics will be subject to new checks at ports and airports. Those controls too will take effect pending ratification by the Balearic Islands high court and publication in the regional gazette.

Lastly, President Ferrer touted 3,693 first doses of vaccination already administered on Formentera, and encouraged the population to “get vaccinated when the time comes, so that together we achieve herd immunity”.

Before the press conference, Ferrer sat with Ms Font; deputy premiere and councillor of commerce and entrepreneurship Ana Juan and the second deputy premiere and culture and education chief Susana Labrador to discuss Formentera’s unfolding epidemiological situation and new public health measures to be adopted. Ferrer and Font also held an online meeting with regional chief Francina Armengol, the other representatives of the island councils, the Balearic Islands Business Federation (FELIB) and the city council of Palma.

15 June 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Minute of silence

foto 2021 juny minut silenciToday at 12.30pm, local officials, municipal staff and regular islanders gathered at the steps of the island’s government to observe a minute of silence in condemnation of male-on-female murders in Tenerife and Seville. Attached is a photograph of the moment.

14 June 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Group photo with Formentera’s 2021 lifeguard crew

foto 2021 servei socorrisme familiConsell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer and interior chief Josep Marí took a group photo this morning at plaça de la Constitució with summer 2021 staff of the Formentera lifeguard service. Ferrer and Marí wished personnel “the best of luck this season” and thanked them in particular for “their dedication to keeping local beaches safe and helping ensure compliance with Covid-19 constraints”.

Lifeguards patrol the beaches of Formentera until 31 October, with total personnel numbering 23 in peak season. The full crew will work till 30 September, leaving just 11 lifeguards for the month of October.

In low season (i.e., May and October) lifeguards surveil ses Illetes, Llevant and Arenals. In June, July, August and September, in addition to these beaches, es Pas des Trucadors, el Tanga, es Pujols, cala Saona and es Caló are monitored as well.

Accessible, cardio care-equipped beaches
Arenals and es Pujols beaches have access points for swimmers with reduced mobility. The service is available when the green flag flies, from 12 noon to 5.00pm, and can be commissioned by phoning 609 768 506. The service is available 1 May to 31 October at Arenals and 1 June to 30 September in es Pujols.

Every lifeguard post is equipped with a defibrillator in the event of cardio-respiratory failure.

To check sea conditions, visit www.platgesdebalears.com.

14 June 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Alejandra Ferrer shares vision of island where human wellbeing and land and environmental safeguards are paramount

foto 2021 debat estat CEarlier today local decision-makers gathered in the plenary hall of the adult day care facility for the first session of discussion on the state of the island. Consell de Formentera chief Alejandra Ferrer opened the estat de Formentera with her reflections on the current state of local affairs, a stock-taking of efforts within government and a picture of the road ahead.

Ferrer began by underlining the day’s focus on covid-19 incidence and a crisis of two dimensions: “in public health, where efforts continue to centre on keeping islanders safe, and in the economy, a consequence of the first”.

Start of summer
Ferrer spoke of challenges in planning and the imperatives of Covid-19 constraints in constant flux, and underscored a plan “to reactivate and turbocharge tourism” — part of a strategy that was hatched with input from Formentera’s business community and local political party reps and tailored to respond to “the full array of potential outcomes”. The work has sought to guarantee a “safe-as-possible destination in summer 2021”, and in that regard, President Ferrer shed light on public health safeguards and steps to foster awareness.

Economic crisis
Ferrer turned next to the economy and the local plan to reactivate tourism, which, she pointed out, preserves elements of the 2021 Tourism Promotion Plan, “like Formentera’s tack courting tourists and our vision for tourism, and offers an analysis of weaknesses and opportunities”. “As always, we’re leading with sustainability, sustainable mobility, rural renewal and safeguards on culture and local heritage”, said Ferrer, “and striving for social equilibrium, economic improvement and environmental protections”.

And the president outlined several bids this winter to reinvigorate local commerce. Permits have gone out and the summer season has begun for vendors at artisan markets and other streetside operations and the Formentera Department of Commerce is currently crafting its own plan to boost commercial activity.

Economic assistance
On the struggling economy, President Ferrer highlighted ongoing work to “adapt, expand and extend the validity of new economic and fiscal measures aimed at tackling economic and social fallout from the Covid-19 public health crisis”. Businesses and political parties played key roles preparing and agreeing the response and ensuring no islander was left behind. Local government extended its own aid through winter, with additional extensions expected to keep assistance going through summer and perhaps as late as year’s end. Help for businesses, families and renters, meanwhile, has been complemented by increasingly inclusive national and regional assistance.

On support for the most vulnerable, Alejandra Ferrer drew attention to the pandemic-era efforts of the Formentera Department of Social Welfare. She pointed up the department’s processing of applications for the special Covid-19 Guaranteed Social Income and Minimum Employment Income over the past 12 months, describing the bottom line as “guaranteeing islanders’ right to basic social support”.

Ferrer made assurances that the administration’s commitment to equality, LGTBI communities, women, education, youth, sport and culture would not be impacted by the coronavirus crisis. “Extraordinary effort has gone into making sure services and programming continue uninterrupted”, she asserted.

The president spoke about an array of initiatives to defend cultural heritage, including the Consell’s research grant. This year, that endowment grew to €8,500, and 25 grants were announced to rehabilitate local cultural heritage sites.

Ferrer touted continued support for the local agrarian co-operative, which claims more than 400 members, and the Farmland Reserve programme, which now encompasses 270 hectares of cropland. “New services will lay the groundwork for an oil mill, collective workspace and additional displays of a newly enhanced local production capacity”, said Ferrer, “while infrastructure improvements, like at the local fishermen’s guild, will help guarantee fresh fish for islanders and visitors”.

Renewable energy
A range of actions in recent years have sought gains for conservation and the environment while working to mitigate tourism’s direct and indirect impact on nature and on the quality of life of residents. In a new initiative, the island will be party to an EU-backed pilot project for renewable energy. Ferrer also talked about the island’s new waste management contract, expected to be through tender and in effect by late 2021. The president highlighted features like expanded organics pickup, more frequent collection and new containers and machinery. “The changes will help us tailor collection, cleaning and recycling to our reality today”, she declared.

Hometown appeals
Ferrer pledged unwavering commitment to “regulating anchorage along the entire coast of Formentera and safeguards on land and at sea in ses Salines reserve”.

“Another critical project involves regulating watercraft moorage at Estany des Peix, giving structure and sense to an iconic space of tremendous ecological importance. Work is afoot to put the project out to tender and shape the terms of regulated mooring in the area to strike a balance between enjoyment and legislation”, she said.

Ferrer also touted collaborative efforts “to achieve ecological, socio-cultural and economic sustainability”, adding, “Sustainability is also about guaranteeing people’s basic rights, and paramount among them is access to decent housing — one of the most complicated challenges we face and one that distinct levels of government must unite in order to tackle”.

The president also reviewed works carried out this winter. “The new school in Sant Ferran, for example, will be ready by September”, she said. Building work is likewise complete on the old persons’ home, with efforts currently under way to tender out furnishings, adopt regulations and, in short order, build an access road to the facility. Work on the children’s play area in Sant Ferran and the skate park is also nearing completion. Crews in the port and at the fishermen’s guild have moved onto the next phase of upgrades, and announced completion of phase two of upgrades in es Pujols.

Sustainable mobility
Ferrer said sustainability was as important on land as at sea, and hightlighted the notable example of formentera.eco, which this year turns three. Other efforts have focused on slowing the arrival of vehicles on the island, limiting access to Finca d’Allà Dins in es Cap and, this year, reinstating controlled entry to ses Illetes.

In another mobility initiative, Ferrer pledged “continued work on compliance with the local mobility plan through public transport improvements, implementation of the new contract with more lines and more sustainable, bespoke buses for riders with reduced mobility”.

The president concluded with the assertion that “the priorities are clear. We’ve achieved a lot, delivered on important projects and historical demands, and now it’s time to lean into our own vision for the island. Above all, it’s a vision underpinned by people and their quality of life. Tourism, our main industry, must also serve to stimulate other economies (craftwork, agriculture, fishing, livestock). We want a respectful tourism, which is ultimately the means to guarantee islanders’ quality of life and see to it that it’s a lifestyle and economic situation that will last over time”.

11 June 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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