Thursday, December 2

Who owns the land reclaimed from the sea by the eruption of the La Palma volcano?

An empty house in Todoque before it is engulfed by lava.

An empty house in Todoque before it is engulfed by lava.

The terrain that lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the island of La Palma Win to the sea will automatically be the public land maritime domain, that is, property of the State, while the properties buried on the mainland by the magmatic runoff will remain private. However, the State is obliged to protect this new asset that is part of the geological heritage and therefore subject to the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Law, so that it may or may not expropriate such properties.

According to the Coastal Law, The lands or islands that are formed or are formed by natural causes in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of the rivers belong to the state maritime terrestrial public domain, to the extent that the tides are sensitive. Therefore, these lands that will foreseeably win the terrestrial maritime public domain will be inalienable, imprescriptible and unattachable.

Insofar as these goods are public, the Spanish constitution It also establishes that both the maritime-terrestrial zone, as well as the beaches, the territorial sea and the natural resources of the economic zone and the continental shelf, are regulated by the Law on State Heritage and National Heritage for its administration, defense and conservation.

Similarly, within the framework of the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Law of 2007, the new geological formations They are part of the heritage, so that the obligation of their protection is established with one of the different figures.

Specifically, it recognizes the equity value of the variety of Geologic features, including rocks, minerals, fossils, soils, landforms, geologic formations and units, and landscapes that they are the product and record of the evolution of the Earth; as well as unique geological forms, of special scientific importance and that are representative of geological evolutionary history.

Similarly, it includes as part of the geological heritage to geological formations and structures, landforms, minerals, rocks, meteorites, fossils, soils and other geological manifestations that allow to study the origin and evolution of the Earth as well as its landscapes.

However, the expert volcanologist from the Illustrious College of Geologists, José Luis Barrera, has explained to Europa Press that the private lands that remain under the volcanic lavage will remain their owners. “Only the new land that is generated will be automatically owned by the State if the lava reaches the sea. Then that land will be in the public domain,” he says.

Nevertheless, the owners of the buried properties will no longer be able to build on them, Unless the geological or historical heritage is modified and “probably” these hectares engulfed by the volcano will be declared a protected area.

Soil Law

In addition, The geologist specifies that the Soil Law in force establishes that the use of land with environmental values, cultural, historical, archaeological, scientific and landscaping that are the object of protection by the applicable legislation, will always be subject to the preservation of said values, and will include only the acts of alteration of the natural state of the lands that that legislation expressly authorizes.

In this way, he comments that now it is on the roof of the administrations what to do with these properties, if they exchange the land to their owners with new ones, if they build a new village or town to relocate those affected, in short, he points out that it remains a process “complex” ahead.

In his opinion, the “cheapest” is build a new little village, with new houses and that are granted square meters similar to those previously owned by the owners.

Although, he warns: it will be very important to determine where the population is established again because “next to the Cumbre Vieja another volcano will emerge.” “This is not going to be the last eruption, it can happen again in, say, 20 years, because the earth’s mantle is very close to the surface, about 15 kilometers deep “, insists Barrera, who compares the distance to the terrestrial mantle in the western islands of the Canary Islands with, for example, the volcanic systems of Campo de Gibraltar, where the earth’s crust is about 35 kilometers thick.

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