City of San Sebastian announces surf park development near coast


While the ecological emergency is more than ever present and visible, San Sebastian city hall does not seem to realize it. They just accepted the modification of Mount Atondegi’s local urban masterplan to build a new surf park. Based on the development of 9 acres of land, only 5 kilometers away from the ocean and natural surf spots, this project would have tremendous ecological consequences against which the ANTONDEGI BERDEA-OLATUAK ITSASOAN community has decided to fight. Surfrider Europe and Surfrider Spain have joined these Coastal Defenders to combat the construction of this project.  

A new surf park project with disastrous consequences

Last December, after being challenged by our Coastal Defenders and local activist groups, the Wavegarden company abandoned plans to build a surf park in the French Basque country, just 1.5km away from some of the best surf spots in Europe. Now, just a few kilometers away on the other side of the border, the company has found a new location to propose their artificial wave pool. The local urban masterplan’s modification has been voted to create a recreational building plot on Mount Antondegi, one of the last natural sites in the Spanish city.

The project would lead to the development of 9 acres of agricultural land and increases in the consumption of water and energy. These changes would result in eco-system disturbance, loss of biodiversity, destruction of the existing green space which is home to endangered bird species, and increased risk of flooding due to land artificialization. All phenomena accelerate the effects of global warming and expose human’s vulnerability to a changing environment, only to benefit a project aimed at leisure and economic gain.

Coastal Defenders committed to the fight

Surfrider Europe maintains its position that surf parks proposed near the coastline, in close proximity to natural surf spots, create a negative environmental impact that far exceeds their commercial benefits. The NGO has fought publicly against these unnecessary developments before and will now be joining the San Sebastian campaign initiated by ANTONDEGI BERDEA-OLATUAK ITSASOAN, a collective that encompasses the Eguzki environmental group, Haritzalde, Parkea Bizirik and Itsas Enara organizations. The Coastal Defenders will campaign to cancel this absurd project which does not answer in any way to the general interest, even that of some surfers, whom have never been in favor of the building of such infrastructure. 

By putting pressure on San Sebastian’s public authorities who own the land, the collective’s first goal is to requalify the site of Antondegi as a non-convertible area. This effort would establish the site as a protected natural space and prevent development projects that do not answer to European and International commitments regarding climate change and biodiversity protection, particularly specified in the 2030 Agenda.  

As long as inappropriate developments surface, the fight will go on  

This fight, in which Surfrider isactively involved, is a means to reaffirm Surfrider Europe’s position on surfparks. Our organisation was born out of a community of surfers concerned about protecting the ocean as a playground. However, the development of these new wave pools, urbanizing the land and resource use, contributes to increase the vulnerability of marine ecosystems and of this very playground. By engaging against projects of this type, let us prioritise environmental issues over economic ones and make a real commitment to a new societal model. 

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