María José Roberto Serrano, is councillor of company and employment of the City Council of Vélez-Málaga. She has supported the project BRICK-BEACH since its inception and is currently working with all the other partners on the project start (April 2018).
1) Why did your city decide to apply under Urban Innovative Actions?
In a general context where projects need to replicate something already tested to limit risks, the emergence of a European initiative that encourages creativity, brings us closer to the way of understanding the growth of the most dynamic economies on the planet and offers cities a unique opportunity to test their most risky projects.
We understand innovation as applied creativity, and this is the best tool that we have to tackle contemporary urban challenges. It has been only thanks to UIA support that we have been able to engage all public and private entities involved in our project to test a solution that, if successful, could imply regulatory changes at EU level.
2) What do you consider to be the most innovative element of your project in order to achieve a more Circular economy?
The inexistence of a waste treatment facility in Vélez-Málaga has resulted into uncontrolled dumping of debris from construction and demolition, leading to a significant impact to both the environment and the landscape, that must be addressed. Hydraulic infrastructures built in the last decades, such as breakwaters, the swamp and the fishing port have modified coastal dynamics, resulting into the disappearance of some of the historical beaches of our municipality.
The BRICK-BEACH Project deals with these challenges in a comprehensive manner, turning a local problem into a global opportunity, with a solution that could be replicated by other communities. A debris treatment facility will be built in Vélez-Malaga. The plant will incorporate a three-steps treatment process: crushing the aggregate, separating the polluting components and eroding it. As a result of this process the resulting material will have optimal granularity, softness and composition, to be used in beach regeneration. The debris from illegal dumpings in Vélez-Málaga will be treated in this facility, and will be used on a pilot basis in the integral regeneration of the Playa de la Mezquitilla and its urban surroundings. On this singular space, socioeconomic dynamisation activities, and environmental awareness programmes will be implemented.
Artificial beach regeneration is one of the most aggressive activities affecting the coastal environment. Seabed and river clogs are regularly excavated and the incipient marine life is buried by extracted muds, damaging the environment with dust in the beaches and murky waters. However, the gradual dumping of recycled aggregates will simulate the natural quantity of water that dams block, allowing movement of wildlife, preserving the seabed while obtaining cleaner beaches.
Until now, crushed aggregated used in beach regeneration comes from quarries. This aggregate doesn't have optimal properties in terms of comfort for its use in public beaches, and the process of its extraction has also a negative environmental impact. BRICK-BEACH includes an innovative erosion process, which will allow new uses for aggregate without damaging the environment.
3) What are the main changes that you expect to achieve in your municipality with this project?
This project will equip the municipality with a waste treatment facility that is currently lacking, and will put to an end the problem of uncontrolled dumpings. 75.000 tons of waste from at least 12 illegal landfills spread trough the municipality will be treated in the new plant and will allow the regeneration of 800 meters of beach, favouring the environmental recovery of dumping areas and the creation of jobs associated to the dumping sector and active tourism.
4) Any conclusion words you would like to share with our audience?
During the last two centuries, our continent has shaped a worldwide model of development that has resulted into the planet current situation. Maybe this is the main reason why we feel responsible of leading the change of the growth paradigm towards a more environmentally and societal respectful model. Europe, with its extraordinary human capital, faces now a challenge matched up to its skills. Let’s face the challenge; the world is waiting for us!