It was way back in 2005 that the Canarian Government, along with UNESCO and the EU, talked about closing the main road through the Dunes to Corralejo. The decision was made to protect the conservation area of the dunes, which is classified as a natural park. The closure would not be just to protect the natural landscape of the dunes, but also concerned the protected species of the houbara, allowing them to nest and breed in their natural habitat.
To this end, a new ‘motorway’ was planned for, bypassing the dunes, and money was provided by the EU for this purpose, with the intent that once the road was completed, the road through the dunes would close.
The new road, the FV-1, was opened to traffic in 2017, although not quite finished, and work continues at the Corralejo end. It was foreseen that the road would be finished and the dunes road would be closed permanently to traffic.
Then, early August 2018, it was announced that the dunes road would be closed from 10th August 2018 to 6th October 2018. The Cabildo advised that this was for two purposes. One is for the filming of Wonder Woman, which would take place in that area. The other reason was so that the Cabildo, who do not wish the road to be closed permanently to all traffic, have the chance to do a survey and produce a study that guarantees environmental viability to put before the Ministry of Environment of the Canary Islands.
It was stated that it was important to undertake the study at a time of maximum use and influx of visitors, in order to obtain verified and reliable information about the damage that the final closure would cause to locals, merchants and businessmen in the area, as well as the negative tourist impact that it would also have for visitors, who would not be able to directly access the beaches.
The Cabildo confirmed that they’ve been talking to the government for years, trying to convince them that the road should remain open. They state that producing a survey showing current and objective data is their last chance.
Once the new road is fully completed it will be classed as an autovía (motorway). In general bicycles are not allowed on autovías; however, if there is no alternative route then it is understood that they will be allowed.
Whilst it would be very sad if the road does indeed close permanently, it has to be said that it goes through an important natural park and the road should never have been built in the first place. Should it close, nature will take it’s course, quickly covering up the road with sand and, most importantly, the natural wildlife will return. In particular the Houbara, a native bird that finds the dunes a perfect nesting and breeding place.
The Sunday before the temporary closure of the dunes road, we took a drive down there. Admittedly, we haven’t driven down that road on a Sunday before, and we appreciate that traffic in the last couple of years has increased tremendously, but we were shocked at just how busy it was. I am told that it is nothing new for it to be that busy, with cars parked both sides of the road, often getting stuck in the sand. Indeed, in the video below you will see that one car, a 4×4 at that, was indeed stuck.