A number of Nerja politicians began to be questioned last month as an enquiry re-opened into the municipality’s practice of dumping waste water in the seas. The investigation was suspended by a court in Torrox last June as nine present and former town councillors were waiting to be called to give evidence.

Those now expected to answer questions began with José Alberto Armijo, the present mayor who was previously mayor between 1995 and 2015. He was called to give his responses on February 18.

Others include former Town Planning and Housing Councillor Mari Nieves Atencia and former Environment Councillor José Miguel Jimena, both of whom served in Mayor Armijo’s Partido Popular team between 2011 and 2015. The fourth to be called is Jorge Bravo of Izquierda Unida who was Environment Councillor in the socialist coalition administration from 2015 to 2019.

The investigation, named Operation Vastum, opened in 2017 following a complaint to the Guardia Civil from the group Ecologists in Action about three municipalities which were not purifying waste water in line with European directives. Nerja was named along with Coín and Alhaurín el Grande.

Until Nerja’s new water treatment plant is completed and goes into operation, the town continues to dump waste water at sea. Last March, a TV documentary broadcast dramatic underwater footage taken at the end of one of the outlet pipes about a kilometre off shore. Video taken by divers from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography supported claims that around nine tons of baby-wipes were lying on the sea bed, with piles of waste up to three metres high and 20 metres in diameter at the end of one of the pipes.

Meanwhile, work on the municipality’s new water treatment plant continues. Permission was granted in late January for the unit on the coast road between Nerja and Maro to be supplied with a high tension power supply, with first trials now expected later this year. However, central government has been criticised for its “passivity” in failing to respond to Nerja’s request for clarification of the on-going operation related to plant.

The Integrated Sanitation Forum of the Costa del Sol said last month that it is “vitally important” to know who will be responsible for the operation of the plant once it is up and running, “which requires preparing a whole new protocol of action well in advance.” The Forum, formed in 2007 by organisations in the province, says it is not simply a case of the government, “handing over the keys and running.”