Friday, September 22, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 September 2017

Morning high (6.45am): 15.8C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 6
Three-day forecast: 23 September - Cloud, sun, 25C; 24 September - Sun, cloud, 26C; 25 September - Sun, cloud, 26C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 3 to 4.

Much like yesterday. Mostly sunny and still pretty warm.

Evening update (20.00): Sunny it was. High of 26.9C.

Ignoring The Spanish: Imserso

A figure one hears for the yearly number of tourists in the Balearics is in the 13 million region. In precise terms for 2016 it was 12,994,712, the figure given in the tourism ministry's annual report. This is, however, a misleading number as it applies to European and non-European tourists and not to Spanish tourists. That figure last year was 2,377,209, making Spain the third most important tourism market (there were 4.6 million Germans and 3.7 million Britons). So, the true figure for tourists was 15,371,922.

It is curious that the Spanish are so often disaggregated from the tourist equation and treated as though they are separate. As they constituted more than 15% of all tourists last year, they can hardly be ignored, and yet the impression is often given that they are. It might be, however, because they are less appreciated in terms of what they contribute. In the same annual report are our old friends the tourist spending statistics. And what do they reveal? Well, the plus-15% Spanish market equated to only 10.6% of the total spending. On average per day, the Spanish tourist forked out a mere 85 euros, which were 51.10 euros fewer than the foreign tourist average.

This difference may well of course have something to do with how that spending is worked out. It includes the cost of the actual holiday. But Spanish tourists do come on packages, even if this cost will tend to be lower than for tourists from abroad. Nevertheless, a daily margin of more than 50 euros is a significant amount.

Nationalities have an anecdotal tendency to be characterised by what they apparently spend. We hear, for example, that the British have slipped in the spending stakes. Yet, according to the figures last year, the British, the Germans, the Italians, the French and the Swiss all spend around the same amount (there's no more than 4.50 euros between the highest-spending Swiss and the lowest-spending Germans and French in this mini league table).

Spanish tourists, both anecdotally and according to the tourism ministry's numbers, are generally considered to be at the low end of the spending rankings, if not rank bottom. While this is, as always, a pretty wild generalisation, there is one category of Spanish tourist for which it is generally accurate, and that is the Imserso tourist.

By contrast to other Spanish tourists, the low-season Spanish pensioner holidaymaker is given a high level of attention. It can seem disproportionately so, given that Imserso is, according to the hoteliers, barely worth opening for. Yet each year when it comes around, Imserso fills the column inches in ways that Spanish tourists otherwise never do.

This said, the attention tends to be one driven from within the tourism industry. Politicians, when by and large failing to acknowledge Spanish tourists' existence in  summer, do not compensate for this by going on at any great length about Imserso. This could well be, as the hoteliers are also at pains to point out, because Balearic political institutions - the government, most obviously - don't involve themselves unduly with Imserso. It's a different story elsewhere: Benidorm, for instance, with its significantly greater level of hotel occupancy in the low season than any resort area in Mallorca can lay claim to.

The governmental indifference to Imserso only shakes itself into anything vaguely like enthusiasm when ministers can point to hotels being open and therefore people being employed. Even greater enthusiasm can be reserved for the airport arrivals and declarations that things are therefore clearly "better in winter". Yes, so they are, and they are better in part because of Spanish pensioners who, let's be blunt, might not normally figure in ministerial requirements for "quality tourism". This isn't because the OAPs are rolling around drunk next to Balneario 6 or along Punta Ballena but because they just don't spend anything.

Accordingly, the indifference will mean that those Imserso pensioners who might book for Mallorca will pitch up in February (which is when the hoteliers mainly expect them) and find to their horror that they have to fork out two euros a night tourist tax. Or, perish the thought, three euros if they're in a three-star superior. They'll be hoping that Més Menorca get their way and that the tourist tax rise in the low season will be frozen.

In fact, given the existence of the tourist tax one wonders why the Imserso brigade isn't simply booking itself into Benidorm, which can boast being a tourist-tax-free zone. Perhaps they were trying to, which might help to explain the queues outside travel agencies when the holidays went on sale earlier this week. Astonishingly enough, there were videos of these queues appearing on tourism media websites.

So, as I say, there is some attention paid to Spanish tourists but only to the pensioners. Some attention, but otherwise ignored.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 September 2017

Morning high (6.15am): 15.9C
Forecast high: 28C; UV: 6
Three-day forecast: 22 September - Cloud, sun, 26C; 23 September - Cloud, sun, 25C; 24 September - Sun, cloud, 26C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): South 2 to 4 backing Southeast in the afternoon.

Should be a decent enough day.

Evening update (20.00): High of 29.3C.

Nationalising The Beaches

It was a few years ago now. Residents in Playa de Muro were denouncing the over-occupation of part of the beach by sunlounger and parasol sets. There were more than there should have been, and the residents invoked the rights of the citizens in respect of the use of the free public domain that is all Spanish beaches.

The residents' action came at a time when Playa de Muro (and Can Picafort) were the scene of the occasional sunlounger war. Mornings would dawn and damage to sunloungers could be seen. They were being slashed overnight. Repairing them cost a pretty centimo or two. Nothing was ever proven, though the suspicion was that these acts of vandalism were due to differences between competing concessionaires for operating the summer sunloungers.

These concessions were and are pretty good business. A tendency to over-occupy made the business that much more profitable. It was suggested that bidders would in fact make allowance for fines they could anticipate for putting out too many sunloungers. Even with the fines and the charges demanded by the town hall for the concession, six months (or however long) of sunloungers turned in and continue to turn in handsome profits, so long as they've not been eaten into by the cost of repair.

Another part of Playa de Muro's beach (not the one the residents were worried about) is virtually impassable because of the sunloungers. There is a corridor behind them; otherwise it's a walk with the sea lapping over your feet. It's not like this in other parts because the beach is either deeper or there are no sunloungers: in front of the nature park dunes or those stretches which have only residential accommodation and no hotels.

When David Abril of Més announced the other day that his party is seeking to remove sunloungers (and chiringuito bars) from all beaches, my thoughts turned to the situations in Playa de Muro. Over the years they have encapsulated arguments regarding the free space of the beach public domain, the business to be had from beach "exploitation", and beach overcrowding because of the sheer scale of sunlounger occupation.

I don't entirely disagree with what Abril was saying. There is something less than satisfactory about the business exploitation (privatisation, if you want to call it that) of what is meant to be free space. There is also something almost unseemly about the way in which sunloungers on certain stretches of beach can be packed so tightly together and in such number.

Not, however, that I can agree on some sort of blanket ban, while the agreement with Abril only goes so far. It might be greater if one didn't detect that behind the proposal is a further whiff of Més zeal for let's call it (to be kind) touristic reorganisation rather than anti-tourism. And that, moreover, this is a zeal dressed up as environmentalism and even nationalism (of a Mallorcan variety, that is).

Abril will know that in the general scheme of things sunloungers are used by tourists rather than by residents and that there have been those arguments about over-occupation made by residents. He is potentially therefore touching another raw nerve of sentiment and promoting a citizens' yelp against tourism (and saturation).

On the environmental front, we have had the situation at Es Trenc this summer with the demolition of the chiringuitos. This was in fact because of a court decision that applied rules in the national coasts law. It wasn't driven by local eco-politicians but they most certainly latched onto it. To now put up the temporary chiringuitos (if they do indeed appear next summer) will mean overcoming complications as tangled as being able to license an apartment as a holiday rental. Moreover, the chiringuitos' enforcement was a reinforcement of the triumph one of Abril's Més colleagues, environment minister Vidal, had secured with regard to the Es Trenc Nature Park. Més had achieved what had been demanded for years at a beach which is more symbolic of Mallorca's virginal coastline than any other.

Fundamentally, though, underpinning Abril's proposal is Mallorcan nationalist fervour. This nationalism is a Més philosophy, and Abril advocates it more strongly than most. Within the context of the ongoing debate (such as it is) on tourism saturation etc., he has now given greater prominence to the beaches and made an allusion, as have others with like minds, to a time past when there were no "installations" on beaches and when the sands were all romantically rustic and dunes hadn't been flattened and built on.

The justification for his demand is nationalist in that it calls for Balearic powers of control of the beaches. The central government via the Costas Authority has the supreme responsibility for the Spanish nation's beaches, and this is what Abril is seeking to alter. Beaches and sunloungers now enter the nationalism argument, and of this there is a great deal more to be said. Més envisage "our own state" by 2030.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 September 2017

Morning high (5.23am): 15.7C
Forecast high: 25C; UV: 6
Three-day forecast: 21 September - Sun, cloud, 28C; 22 September - Cloud, sun, 26C; 23 September - Sun, cloud, 26C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 2 to 4, temporarily South. Swells of one to two metres.

A chance of a spot of rain. Mainly cloudy with sunny spells. Clearer by late afternoon.

Evening update (20.00): No rain. Middling sort of a day. High of 25.9C.

One In Eight: Awash With Rentals

One holiday apartment for every eight residents. The statistic is quoted in an article that was published in El País last week. The information came from Airdna, which isn't some type of Airbnb watchdog but is in fact an Airbnb's data analytics business. The website sounds like Airbnb such is the virtue made of, inter alia, its "rentalizer", the first automated valuation tool for short-term rentals.

Among various statements on the website is this: "Short-term rental earnings are blowing away the returns seen in any other real estate investment category. Savvy investors are purchasing properties where lodging supply is low, travel demand is high and regulation is favourable. Learn how to identify the perfect Airbnb investment opportunity." Another states: "Our sophisticated technology picks up every intricate data point on every Airbnb listing in the world. Whether you want to analyse short-term rental rates in Mallorca or regulatory impacts in Manhattan, Airdna has the most comprehensive and longest spanning data set."

How strange it seems that an American website should select Mallorca to be one of two places highlighted under "unmatched global Airbnb coverage". Perhaps it was for alliteration purposes - Mallorca and Manhattan. Perhaps not.

El País was clearly taking Airdna at its word. What better data analytics can there be? They must even outdo those used by Terraferida in mapping Airbnb interests in Mallorca. The article's headline referred to the Spanish municipalities most awash with holiday rentals. The original Spanish was "inundado". The translation could also be flooded, inundated or swamped. It couldn't be saturated but it's not so far off. The municipality with one holiday apartment for every eight inhabitants is the most awash of all. Any guesses?

A few weeks ago I came up with an estimate of how many illegal holiday rentals places there might be in Pollensa. On the basis of what El País (Airdna) says, I wasn't far wrong. Around 11,000, though it was probably a bit on the high side. Pollensa has some 16,200 residents - 16,222 according to the 2016 figure. It therefore has more than 2,000 holiday apartments. That is an absolutely staggering number. So much so that I find it almost hard to believe. Based on the most recent figures I've seen, this would mean that around 18% of all dwellings in Pollensa is an illegal apartment, and that's before you add on the licensed villas and houses.

But that's how it's reported, and almost as staggering is the municipality in fourth spot - Alcudia with one for every twelve residents. That would translate to around 1,600.

Four years ago I took part in a public debate about holiday rentals. To my right were Alvaro Middelmann, a one-time president of the Mallorca Tourist Board (among many other things), the lawyer Javier Blas, and a lady from the tourism ministry whose name I now can't remember. She was in something of a minority in her defence of the then Partido Popular's legislative approach to holiday rentals. I asked her at one point what planet her boss, Jaime Martínez, was on. I was in favour of far greater liberalisation of the rentals' market. The tourism ministry and government were not.

If you want to know why I've changed my view, then look at those numbers. I don't believe they are anything to celebrate. Bear in mind that these are just Airbnb properties, though it is quite possible that they have also been on other websites. Or were on them. The figures quoted by El País were for July. There has been frantic deleting since then.

But more than the numbers it is those quotes from Airdna. They encapsulate everything that Airbnb has distorted and every way that Airbnb has allowed itself to be distorted in growing so phenomenally as a business. Savvy investors, short-term rentals earnings, and people still talk about the collaborative, sharing economy? Who are they trying to kid?

Manel Casals is the manager of the Barcelona Hotels Guild. You would expect him not to be a fulsome advocate of holiday rentals, but when he said in an interview recently that the collaborative economy is a ridiculous invention (the translation could also mean comic invention), then he wasn't far wrong.

I have sympathy, and I've said it before, for those apartment owners who had been renting out either legally (by the tenancy act) or not up until the time Airbnb suddenly exploded (and it hadn't at the time of that debate). It might have satisfied the views I held only four years ago if Airbnb had not come along and destroyed the chances of legalising so many apartments. Those chances would have been significantly greater than they now are because of how the government has acted - has been forced to act.

"Analyse short-term rental rates in Mallorca"; it says it all. The collaborative economy wasn't a comic invention. It was a decent one before it became ridiculous.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 September 2017

Morning high (6.47am): 16.8C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 6
Three-day forecast: 20 September - Cloud, sun, 24C; 21 September - Sun, cloud, 28C; 22 September - Sun, cloud, 25C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 2 to 3.

Rain possible this morning, though that was the case yesterday and none materialised. Otherwise, sunny spells.

Evening update (20.15): No rain. Quite pleasant. High of 25.5C.

A Return To 2010?

Can I take you back to the summer of 2010? It was a World Cup year. Spain won. England didn't. On the streets the locals (Mallorcans or indeed Spaniards) went wild. The English, still smarting from the 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Germans and from the Frank Lampard goal which was but wasn't, had by and large thrown their lot in with the natives. Residents and tourists alike; they were all suddenly Spanish (Mallorcan).

It is worth recalling that summer 2010 was slap-bang in the period of economic crisis. In May of that year I wrote a piece which predicted the end of tourism life in Mallorca. Some had suggested that it would be on 24 September. I opted for 24 July. Why was I so confident? Because everywhere was doom-laden. The end was nigh; two months left, I concluded.

As things were to turn out, 24 July passed without the final day of tourism judgement releasing hellfire and damnation. The locals were still recovering from their 11 July World Cup hangover, but otherwise tourism life had survived this summer apocalypse. Survived, but only just. At the start of the following month, the tourism ministry announced that it was rolling out an emergency plan. It was one aimed in particular at the British. What was the emergency? The number of tourists, that was what. Over the first half of the year British tourism had slumped by eleven per cent. The ministry's emergency entailed forking out 1.5 million euros on getting Brits to book last minute and into October.

The Brits weren't the only ones to have been affected by crisis. But other core tourism markets - the Germans and Scandinavians - hadn't felt the impact anything like as much. Those other markets also didn't have to contend with a highly unattractive pound-to-euro exchange rate. As a consequence, hoteliers were beginning to rethink things. The rethinking was reflected a year or more later. Meliá unveiled the grand plan for Magalluf's transformation, an aspect of which was to be a lower reliance on the Brits and attempts to attract other markets, such as the Germans and Scandinavians.

That summer really was rather difficult. Thomas Cook was forced to issue a profits' warning. It wasn't the only tour operator to feel the pinch. The last-minute bookings emergency campaign that the ministry had in mind was assisted by offers of up to 60% off in September. Even in August you could get 40% off. Certain hotel associations representing resort areas were saying that as much as 30% was unsold in July and August.

If the summer eventually proved not to have marked an end, it had marked a beginning. It was that shift away from a British dependence. All those Brits who had temporarily become Spaniards and had cheered when Andres Iniesta scored with four minutes of extra time left were not to find that their loyalty was being totally unappreciated; just that loyalty was not being taken for granted.

But 2010 was forgotten as crisis eased, geopolitics intervened and there was no more need for hotels to have to close by early September (which happened that year). And so our attention now turns to 2018 and what, where some are concerned, will be another rather difficult summer but for very different reasons. Yet there are predictions of a further record year. How can this be, given tourist tax doubling, higher prices, bad exchange rate (where the Brits are concerned, if not others)?

The record is being forecast because of the length of the season. Building work is going to have to be completed very punctually, as hotels in the main resort areas - Playa de Palma, parts of Calvia, Alcudia - are planning on opening at the start of March, even though the Easter week isn't until the end of the month. The eight-month season, at least in some cases, is with us. Will there need to be a late-summer campaign as there was in 2010? It doesn't look like it, besides which the current government is not one for doing any promotion of a summer variety.

From a British perspective, there will be voices that pooh-pooh the possibility of another record year. True, not all visitors from other countries will be enamoured of a doubling of the tourist tax, but 2018 doesn't appear to be shaping up like a repeat of 2010. And even for the British, their economy, despite Brexit, isn't in the state it was eight years ago. More than anything it is the domestic economy which impacts on consumer decisions to take holidays or not.

Each year we have the same type of debate about tourism - good or bad seasons. Even if 2018 isn't a record and numbers do fall, it will really only be a downward correction on what have been two or three extraordinary years.

Monday, September 18, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 September 2017

Morning high (7.10am): 16.9C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 6
Three-day forecast: 19 September - Cloud, sun, 22C; 20 September - Cloud, sun, 24C; 21 September - Sun, cloud, 28C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Southwest 3 veering Northeast 4 to 5 in the afternoon.

So, yellow alerts out for probable rain and storm. Showers possible tomorrow as well, less so on Wednesday, with the rest of the week looking generally good.

Evening update (20.15): Well, so much for the so-called storm. Reasonable enough all day save for a slight shower in the afternoon. High of 29.3C. 

Greeks Alarmed About Tourist Saturation

Against the background of talk of tourist limits, control of holiday rentals and tourist "massification", it is useful to note what is going on elsewhere in the Mediterranean. There seems to be a view among those who are rejecting the Balearic policies - tourist tax, rentals' legislation - that other destinations don't have the same issues and will be welcoming floods of more tourists next year: those who will be abandoning Mallorca.

There really does need to be a greater understanding of these other destinations. Take the Greek islands, for example, and the context of Greece's politics, with the Podemos-style Syriza in power, curiously supported by the highly conservative right-wing Independent Greeks.

Santorini is a case in point. It has a population of 25,000. It receives some two million visitors per year. The island's mayor, Anastasios Sorsos, wants the Greek government to declare the island "touristically saturated". Santorini simply can't cope. Its roads can no longer support more traffic. The use of resources has been stretched to its absolute limit.

There is to be a cap placed on the number of cruise ships. The environment ministry is being asked to ban any development away from the main urbanised areas. There is a drive to limit hotel capacities and to prevent there being new businesses that offer tourist services. There is an environmental lobby as concerned as any in the Balearics

Prices are increasing, accommodation is ever more difficult to find for employees and for professional groups, such as doctors. There has to be an end to private holiday rentals, especially those via the likes of Airbnb. They are "wreaking havoc" and not just in Santorini.

Does it all sound rather familiar? Well yes, it does. And the point is that Mallorca is far from being the only tourist destination where issues exist regarding saturation. Taleb Rifai, the secretary general of the UN World Tourism Organisation (WTO), has highlighted his concern with growing tourismphobia. He cited Dubrovnik in Croatia as an example because of saturation through holiday rentals and cruise ship passenger numbers.

2017 is supposedly the year of tourism sustainability, a year decreed by the WTO. This sustainability is espoused by political regimes such as those of the Balearics and Greece, yet it is coloured, as Rifai, notes, by populism that generates an antagonism within society. He is stepping down as secretary general. His successor, the Georgian Zurab Pololikashvili, faces great challenges, and one of them is tourismphobia. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 17 September 2017

Morning high (7.20am): 15.5C
Forecast high: 26C; UV: 6
Three-day forecast: 18 September - Cloud, sun, 26C; 19 September - Cloud, sun, 22C; 20 September - Cloud, 22C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): West 2 to 4 veering North 2 to 3 in the afternoon.

Sun today - hooray! Tomorrow might be rainy - boo!

Evening update (19.00): Good - a high of 26.8C. Yellow alerts for tomorrow - rain and storm.

Promoting Mallorcan Wine

Are you an enotourist? I don't mean are you a tourist in search of a one-time member of Roxy Music, I mean eno as in wine for oenophiles. Enotourism can also be oenotourism, vinitourism or, rather more clearly, wine tourism.

If you are an enotourist, then you may well recognise yourself from this little statistic. When you are gadding around sampling wines, you are also spending in a more healthy manner than the normal tourist (insofar as there is such a thing as a normal tourist). You spend, and you will of course know this, an average of 156.60 euros a day. Moreover, you spend this over the course of 2.65 days.

Aren't statistics wonderful? Although when the Wine Routes of Spain come out with this stuff, it is rather more believable than most tourist spending stats. A wine buff wouldn't be a wine buff if he or she didn't have a reasonable amount of spare disposable to splash out. After all, the enotourist when not on tour wouldn't be picking up a bottle of plonk for 2.50 at the local supermarket. Wine purchasing would require a special trip to a bodega and a well-credited plastic card in order to fill the car boot with a case or several of something distinctly superior to the 2.50 bottle.

Strangely enough, according to the Wine Routes, only 12% of that 156.60 goes on visits to bodegas. But this is just the cost of the visit. A further 19% is coughed up for wine itself. So, slightly less than 30 euros is spent per day on wine. But for 2.65 days, the total outlay is almost 80 euros. Which, one supposes, is a reasonable amount for one tourist to be spending. The only problem is that there is no information as to how many wine tourists there are, which begs a question as to how one can determine who is a wine tourist and who is a tourist who likes wine. Or maybe it doesn't matter.

Let's just conclude, shall we, that wine is a useful niche in the overall scheme of tourism things. And on mainland Spain there are any number of wine routes that can be followed. They are to be found in different parts of the country, the majority in the north and the others down towards Valencia and others in Extremadura and Andalusia. But when one says country, there is part of Spain which doesn't feature. Any guesses?

Seven years ago, the Chamber of Commerce in Mallorca produced a highly detailed report into tourist product niches. Enotourism was one of them. Whereas the report was able to give a number of tourists for many of these niches, enotourism was not among them.

Being able to identify and quantify any niche does help with the marketing, but with wine it is perhaps the case that the tourist is something of all-rounder. One only has to look at what else that 156.60 per day is spent on: bars and restaurants attract the highest spend, while there is also shopping, visits to museum and a sundry amount for "others". Most enotourists don't classify themselves as wine buffs. Wine, one might conclude therefore, is a tourism hook rather than being the sole tourism purpose.

This isn't altogether surprising. A different niche, and a more identifiable and quantifiable one, is the golfing tourist. And he or she spends more on the likes of restaurants than on golf. Which goes to prove perhaps that alternative low-season tourism is one that operates on the basis of a menu of options. Even cyclists, who are erroneously considered as a stereotype, spend money on gastronomy and other interests.

In the case of wine, though, it goes to the core of the government's agrarian slant to so-called sustainable tourism. Wine production is one of the most profitable if not the most profitable use of land. But just how well marketed is wine as a tourism niche? And how much support is there for it from the government? Although Mallorca doesn't feature among the Wine Routes of Spain, there are routes and there are companies dedicated to wine tourism. The government, though, seems to treat wine as it does most other niches. It lumps them together, talks vaguely about tackling seasonality and that's about that.

Wine tourism is important to the wine trade in Mallorca. It is known that it helps to boost wine exports, with Germany the biggest market. Yet the actual contribution to exports is modest, and the price of wine is staggeringly high compared to those regions where there are wine routes on the mainland - almost nine euros per litre, a price not helped by the high cost of grapes. Production will never be at the level on the mainland, bodegas will for the most part be boutique but they form part of an industry that could do with some more coherent promotion.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 16 September 2017

Morning high (6.21am): 16.4C
Forecast high: 23C; UV: 6
Three-day forecast: 17 September - Sun, cloud, 25C; 18 September - Cloud, 24C; 19 September - Cloud, sun, 22C

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 4 to 5 easing East 3 by the evening.

Could be some more rain around today. Getting better later in the day. Tomorrow looking fine.

Evening update (19.45): There was more rain around today. Quite a bit of it in areas. Sun came out late afternoon. High of 21.1C.

Will Es Murterar Become Another Power Station Ruin?

There is a sight which is distinctly incongruous when one is walking in the Albufera Nature Park. Look in one direction and looming above the vegetation is the chimney of Es Murterar: the power station abuts one edge of the nature park.

It has been there for forty years, an ominous presence looming over the tranquility and environmental sensitivity of Albufera. Once upon a time the coal trucks went through Puerto Alcudia in order to deliver their loads. Since the Bellevue bypass was built, the trucks have been in convoy passing at the foot of the Puig de Sant Marti. I've not personally noticed but I am told that coal dust flies and settles. Even covered, the trucks can allow particles to escape.

And for all these years there has been the Es Murterar roar. At times there can seem to be no rhyme nor reason for this bellowing. Guests at the Lagotel in Las Gaviotas are among those who have noticed it and have therefore complained about it.

There is something else which is incongruous: Balearic energy policy. A region blessed with ample sunlight (as well as other potential sources of renewable energy) can manage a mere two per cent of electricity production from renewables. There are parts of Spain where it is one hundred per cent.

The Balearic government, which has for so long spoken about renewables, now has a clear plan. In the fight against climate change there will be zero emissions by 2050. One trusts that this won't be too late. Much earlier than this - by 2020 - two pollutant groups at Es Murterar will be shut down; basically, this means that half the production lines will disappear within three years. The previous government, that of José Ramón Bauzá, had targeted 20% renewable production by 2020, a goal in line with EU ambitions. Good words and of course nothing happened. It was always possible to hide behind the shield of austerity and economic crisis. Alternative energy costs money and requires investment.

There is also a cost involved with the progressive closure of Es Murterar. The regional government is attempting to calculate it. If the costs are reasonable, says Balearic energy minister Marc Pons, then the national energy ministry will look upon the plan favourably.

A further cost is the one that affects the workforce. The government says that there will be job relocation. It has in mind the photovoltaic plants either planned or under way. One of these is by Es Murterar; others are in Manacor, Llucmajor and Ciutadella in Menorca. The workers don't believe the government. They reckon that there is little realistic chance of relocation. They want a slower process. They accept that coal cannot simply carry on, but the government's timeline is, in the word of the workers, "precipitous". They believe that the plan for Es Murterar is being designed with elections in mind. These elections are less than two years away.

Up to 800 jobs, both direct and indirect, could be affected. One also has to wonder about the impact on the port. Salvem el Moll, which has been agitating about the coal shipments (considering them to be not entirely legal), will doubtless be delighted, but the eventual loss of coal will be bound to have an impact on the port's commercial operations. There again, it is surely a price that not only has to be paid but should be paid. The economics of energy transition can never be wholly benign for all business or indeed all jobs.

Endesa agrees with the workers. The plan is too hasty. As a company it anticipates an end to its coal plants by 2035. It has an alternative - an investment scheme to modify the most polluting groups. The current politics of renewable energy will probably scupper this.

And eventually, what will become of Es Murterar? The roar will be quietened. It will fall silent. No more will the coal trucks rumble along the bypass, inadvertently releasing particles. Es Murterar will then sit there, like Alcanada has ever since Es Murterar was commissioned. Will they be arguing over its future at the end of this century?