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City Council to challenge Semarnat sand project approval for central PDC hotel

Playa del Carmen, Q.R. — Playa del Carmen authorities are considering a legal challenge after a central hotel was given sand removal permission. The permission to remove sand from a central beach to fill their own due to erosion was recently granted by the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat).

Lourdes Varguez Ocampo, the Secretary of the Environment and Climate Change of Solidaridad says the Hotel Altra sand project will be challenged by City Council.

She said the project, which was shut down by the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) a year ago and then denied an overturn by a Cancun judge, has since been granted permission by the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Semarnat).

The project was shut down by Profepa in November of 2022.

Ocampo calls it “a mistake” to have authorized the project since, she says, it was have its effects.

“It is a serious mistake to have given authorization of that nature because in general terms, what we see is that they were authorized to remove sand from one side to transfer it to another which is not appropriate in any situation.

“It is a pending issue that we have to analyze with the Mayor’s legal counsel and challenge it because we cannot allow those types of administrative acts in which they cause more harm than good,” she said.

Ocampo says they do not know when the hotel will start the sand removal project, however, City Council will do a prompt follow-up on the authorization.

“We are going to challenge it. We are not going to let it prosper,” she said.

The hotel has now been given permission to extract sand from Mamitas 3 to fill their beach area at Playa Recodo in central Playa del Carmen.

The hotel has been given the green light to extract 14,870 cubic meters of sand from the Mamitas 3 sand banks to be placed at their location at Playa Recodo, a project Ocampos says “will have no benefit”.

She said the person who authorized the project did so because they do not know the coast of Playa del Carmen.

Ocampo said that they are analyzing arguments, both environmental and legal, that will be taken to the Caribbean Regional Chamber of the Superior Court of Administrative Justice in Cancun.

The Playa Gran commercial company first requested a permit in October 2021 for the project “Beach Recovery and Stabilization in the Panama Jack Development”. The hotel has since changed names.

The now-authorized project includes the extraction of approximately 14,870.77 cubic meters of sand from the Mamitas 3 marine bank which is located approximately 1.6 kilometers northwest of the beach fill site.

According to documents, its surface has been estimated at 45,839.16 square meters with an approximate sand volume of 58,600 cubic meters.

In September of this year, Solidaridad City Council announced a central breakwater project that would include an artificial offshore structure built near Playa El Recodo. The artificial breakwater project is being considered due to area beach erosion.