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Raising awareness about natural surroundings, Sant Francesc library hosts environmental workshop for children

escola estiu2This Wednesday, 28 January at 5:30pm, the Marià Villangómez library of Sant Francesc Xavier will host a special workshop for children four and up aimed at increasing knowledge of local wildlife.

Combining an informational portion with a series of activities specially-adapted for younger audiences, the encounter is part of a campaign to propose one environmentally-themed educational workshop per month.

This first gathering will focus on some of the most oft-encountered animals on Formentera, with recycling, clean beaches, posidònia seaweed and wildfire prevention all planned as subjects to follow.

To compliment the educational content of the day, a selection of books on local Formentera wildlife will be pulled from the library's shelves and put on display with an end toward familiarising participants with good research habits.

Free chess workshop for children of Sant Ferran

nens escacsNext Thursday afternoon, 22 January, at 5pm, the Sant Ferran library will host for the first time a chess workshop for the children of Formentera.

This free activity will take place one Thursday a month and is organised by the Formentera Council and the Quatre Torres ('four towers') chess club.

The goal behind the workshops is to initiate children into the practise of a board game lauded for myriad benefits. Among the different claims, chess enthusiasts list its utility strengthening decision-making skills, imagination, concentration, capacity for silence and tranquility and the ability to anticipate the consequences of one's actions as some of the sport's principal advantages.

Automatic concession of small-scale construction permits up by 21%

130114 bartomeuescToday, the offices of the Formentera Council that oversee construction works released the 2014 figures for activity on the island. Councillor of town planning and the economy Bartomeu Escandell revealed that in 2014 there had been 253 applications for small-scale (menor) construction permits, a drop from 2013, when the number was 329.

Nevertheless, over the same 12-month period, the number of a different type of application – simple small-scale construction permits – increased. It grew from 112 in 2013 to 136 this last year – a 21% increase. Bartomeu Escandell attributed this change to the fact that “to make things easier and streamline the process, more and more often we are seeking to allow projects traditionally requiring small-scale permit applications to receive consideration as simple small-scale projects. The distinction allows for a concession of permit which is practically automatic”.

Of the 253 permit applications for small-scale construction received in 2014, 137 were approved. The remainder – says Escandell – “are under review. The majority are simply awaiting attention from other branches of the public administration”. In 2013, of 329 applications, 218 received approval.

The figures change with applications for permits to conduct what is considered large-scale (major) construction. In 2014, the Council received 110 applications for large-scale permits. Of the proposed projects, 14 were new structures built on rural soil and 96 corresponded to changes to pre-existing structures. In 2013, of the 101 total applications received, 51 were granted approval. Escandell has affirmed that “[the Council] continues processing a high number of the applications that they receive, but to a lesser degree than at the start of the legislative session. This is due in large part to the fact that Council offices that process construction permits have assumed a somewhat normal level of activity”.

Escandell also gave figures concerning requests for certificates of occupancy, required before a building can legally be occupied. These made up 84 applications in 2014, up from 77 in 2013. Of those 84 applications last year, 64 were given approval, compared to a mere 13 that were approved in 2013.

Next month, the Council's office of town planning will unveil the newest data concerning urbanism in 2014.

Deal struck with Telefónica on safety measures for underwater telecom cable

Formentera's councillor of the environment and new technologies Silvia Tur and head of tech services Jaume Zaragoza met last Friday with local Telefónica representatives to evaluate the safety measures put in place last summer to protect the underwater telecom cable connecting Eivissa and Formentera. The representatives also discussed another important issue: progress being made with the implementation of 4G technology on the smaller Pitiüsa island.

Participants at the meeting praised “a summer without service interruptions on the island”. According to Councillor Tur: “This was in good part thanks to controls agreed upon in May 2014 by the Govern Balear, the Formentera Council, the Sant Josep Council and Telefónica to protect the fibre optic cable at Cala Jondal and Cala Saona”.

Tur explained how the success of these controls until present had been the motivation behind the Formentera Council's desire “to keep them in place”. For their part, Telefónica representatives committed to maintenance of the equipment currently installed on Formentera that is devised as a back-up in the event that sea-level protections fail.

Nearly two years ago, on 16 June and 30 July 2013, Internet and telephone service was temporarily lost across the entire island after a submarine cable linking Formentera with Eivissa was severed. Beyond a chilling effect on local tourism, the cuts effected interruptions to even the most basic services on Formentera, including emergency response, services of the hospital and local public administration, ATMs and travel agencies.

4G technology

Another issue discussed at the encounter was the arrival of 4G technology on the island. Silvia Tur indicated that the representatives from Telefónica had assured that “all the necessary equipment [was] already here on the island, and that for the time being its implementation [was] pending only the freeing up of radio waves. Due to a deferment of the already established deadline, these radio waves are currently set to be freed up – and subsequently made available to telephone service providers – in March”. The radio waves are currently occupied by television signal providers.

Second annual plenary session of youth council

Consell inf6Composed of girls and boys from the island's primary and secondary schools, a plenary meeting of Formentera's youth council took place this morning in the plenary hall of the Formentera Council.

El Consell de la infància i la joventut is a participatory entity that casts young people as the actors in the decision making that affects them. Members introduce their own initiatives and voice their particular perspectives regarding the island. This morning's plenary was the second this year.

The day's session included discussion of what is being called el camí escolar de La Mola, or 'the school-children's trail of La Mola'. The idea – a safe route to school for children traveling alone – is to build autonomy without losing out on security.

Those council members who participated in the two countrywide assemblies held in November – one in Guadalajara and the other in the Balearics – related their experiences and gave accounts of the council's actions at this morning's plenary.

Initiatives such as this one were behind UNICEF's decision in October to award Formentera the designation of 'Child-friendly City'. This distinction will be valid through 2018, at which point local policies and practices will once again be reviewed before renewal of the 'Child-friendly City' label.

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