The land that the lava from the La Palma volcano has been gaining from the sea from the early hours of this Wednesday is already, automatically, terrestrial maritime public domain, that is, property of the State, while the properties buried on the mainland by the magmatic runoff will continue being private.
The cloud of gases generated by the lava upon reaching the sea has not caused personal injury, according to Pevolca
However, this increase in national territory obliges the State to protect its new asset, since it is part of the geological heritage and is therefore subject to the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Law, so that it may or may not expropriate such properties.
According to the Coastal Law, lands or islands that are formed or are formed by natural causes in the territorial sea or in the interior waters of rivers, to the extent that the tides become sensitive, belong to the state maritime terrestrial public domain. Therefore, these lands that will foreseeably win the terrestrial maritime public domain will be inalienable, imprescriptible and unattachable.
Insofar as these assets are public, the Spanish Constitution 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 Heritage Law. of the State and the National Heritage for its administration, defense and conservation.
In the same way, in the framework of the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Law of 2007, the new geological formations are part of the heritage, so that the obligation of their protection is established with any of the different figures.
Specifically, it recognizes the heritage value of the variety of geological elements, including rocks, minerals, fossils, soils, landforms, geological formations and units, and landscapes that are the product and record of the Earth’s evolution; as well as unique geological forms, of special scientific importance and that are representative of geological evolutionary history.
In the same way, it includes as part of the geological heritage the geological formations and structures, landforms, minerals, rocks, meteorites, fossils, soils and other geological manifestations that allow studying the origin and evolution of the Earth as well as its landscapes.
The delta of more than 50 meters high and all the advance of the lava over the sea will also force to modify the map, something that will correspond, once the eruptive episode is over, to the National Geographic Institute.
However, the expert volcanologist of the Illustrious College of Geologists José Luis Barrera has explained to Europa Press that the private lands that remain under the volcanic flow will continue to be their owners. “Only the new land that is generated when the lava reaches the sea will be automatically owned by the State. Then that land will be in the public domain,” he says.
The owners of the buried properties will no longer be able to build on them, unless what is geological or historical heritage is modified and “probably” these hectares engulfed by the volcano will be declared a protected area.
Preservation of values
Likewise, the geologist specifies that the Soil Law in force establishes that the use of lands with environmental, cultural, historical, archaeological, scientific and landscape values 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 from 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 “complex” process ahead.
In his opinion, the “cheapest” thing is to build a small new village, with new houses and granting 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 occur again in, for example, 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 Canary Islands with, for example, the volcanic systems of Campo de Gibraltar, where the earth’s crust is about 35 kilometers thick.