In the not-so-distant future, Algeciras hopes to see the completion of a “Lago Maritimo” (“Marine Lagoon”), which will completely change the character of a large stretch of the coastline. That much is clear from the steps taken in recent months to advance the project, which the City Council say is of “vital importance” for the development of the city.
The ambitious project revolves around the creation of a lagoon, amongst other features, following an agreement reached between the Junta de Andalucía and the Port Authority of the Bay of Algeciras (APBA).
The project aims to bring a successful conclusion a 15-year claim to make the northern end of the port, the “Llano Amarillo” (“Yellow Plain”), accessible to the public. The result will consign to history the bad odour that plagues the location where Playa de los Ladrillos beach used to be (in the vicinity of the Corte Inglés supermarket).
It was at the José Luis Cano Data Centre almost a year ago, on February 14, 2020, that the Minister of Development, Infrastructures and Land Management of the Andalusian Government, Marifrán Carazo; the mayor of Algeciras, José Ignacio Landaluce, and the president of the APBA, Gerardo Landaluce, signed a collaboration protocol for the development of this project, under the title “Marine Lagoon for Port-City Integration”.
The collaboration agreement includes provision for the transfer of certain sports facilities currently at the Llano Amarillo to new locations, a final resolution to the waste, which is discharged into the sea at the Paseo de la Cornisa, and the implementation of a new form of “eco-friendly” dredging by the Port Authority, which is expected to put an end to the murky waters and bad smells in this area.
Port Innovation Centre and Multipurpose Building
It is intended to equip the last third of the Llano Amarillo, which is not affected by Operation Paso del Estrecho (OPE – the annual mass return of Moroccans working in Europe to the North African country), with a multipurpose building that will meet the future needs of the Port Authority and others of the city itself. These will include spaces for exhibition congresses such as the Port Centre and a future Port Innovation Centre.
At the time of signing, the objective of the protocol combines the Junta, the City Council and the Port of Algeciras to begin the necessary legal procedures, within the scope of the competences of each, to make the “Lago Maritimo” scheme, establish to what each body will be involved and plan a timetable of actions.
As the president of the Port Authority, Gerardo Landaluce, pointed out at that time, “a state-of-the-art port, like that of Algeciras, must reconcile its economic leadership with a special sensitivity to the environment and promote sustainable development”. He announced that the Marine Lagoon project will allow “transform, integrate and enhance the coastline of the port city par excellence, that is Algeciras.”
Likewise, the mayor of Algeciras has also defended this “important project”, which, in his own words, “is going to mean a giant leap for the city, providing it with new spaces for recreation, sports, training and research”.
A Longstanding “Historical” Claim
The development of the Llano Amarillo and the landscaping, urban and environmental improvement of this part of Algeciras, which would extend to the area of the North Access bridge to the port, is the result of a “historical claim” of the city.
As old newspapers state, on July 28, 2004, a first protocol of intentions was signed, although it was not until July 2005 that the three parties signed an agreement setting out the collaboration phases, programming and analysis. Four years later, in 2009, a framework and collaboration agreement were signed in which commitments and actions were defined, but did not materialize.
Now, after picking up the project again, the Junta de Andalucía, the City Council and the Port Authority seem to be on the same page and determined to ensure the necessary pace and investment for the Marine Lagoon project to go ahead for public use.
Juanma Moreno (President of the Junta de Andalucía) visited Algeciras during the “third wave” of the Covid pandemic to discuss this and other “positive news” for Algeciras. This has been seen by many as confirmation that this project will soon be made a reality.