CELEBRATED writer Chris Stewart has slammed the corrupt political system that is concreting over the natural environment of Spain at “an alarming pace.”
Talking exclusively to the Olive Press, the Driving over Lemons author said he was disgusted with the current spread of urban developments in the interior of Spain.
“I have seen what is happening here. Urbanisation and corruption in the town halls is the biggest threat to the country of Spain.”
Speaking out from his home near Órgiva, Granada, the former Genesis drummer added: “Developers will not stop as long as they are making a profit.
“They know it is against the law and they will eventually get caught out, but they just do not care. Even the ministry of justice seems powerless to stop it.
“They are even bricking over the national parks. It is awful. We all need to fight tooth and nail against it.”
Standing for the Green Party in his local town of Órgiva, Granada, he is highly concerned about plans for a local golf course and 1,200 houses planned.
“Golf courses are my bete noir. I hate golf courses and the way they are used to get planning permission for houses.
“They give everyone the impression they will make lots of money, but in truth most of the money goes out of the region and into the pockets of a small few.
“On top of that, it brings a couple of menial jobs at the most.”
He continued: “In Órgiva, they are going to level off a huge area of natural beauty. They can more or less carve out anything these days. It makes me so angry.”
He has also criticised politicians and developers in Ronda, who are destroying “much of the famous natural beauty of the area” with their plans for the Los Merinos luxury golf complex.
Speaking out after living in the country for almost 20 years, he said: “It is appalling what is happening in Ronda. My heart goes out to the area.”
He continued: “My interpreter was recently planning to move back to Spain from Scotland and was considering Ronda because the countryside is so beautiful. But her brother who lives there told her not to bother as the beauty of the area is rapidly being destroyed. It is breaking my heart.”
“Everything is being destroyed for the greater good of a few speculators. It is essential that papers like the Olive Press continue to point out what is really going on,” he said.
Stewart – who has recently published his third book The Almond Blossom
Appreciation Society – believes that Spain is facing environmental and financial ruin if it continues pinning all its hopes on the tourism industry.
“It is a crime to pin all the country’s hopes on the sacred cow of tourism. There has already been a slowdown and with global warming it is going to continue.
“The days of cheap flights are numbered and tourists are infamously fickle and can easily take their holidays somewhere else.
“To continue to keep building more holiday apartments all over the place can no longer be justified.”
He has been inserted at number 13 on the list of Green candidates. “It is far enough down to ensure that I will not get a job. My political aspirations are numbered to say the least. It is just giving some moral support and helping to engage the ex-pat vote.
“To be honest, I do not even go to the meetings. If I get a rare day off from work and travel I prefer to stay at home with the wife.”
But he says it is not just the foreign vote that is opposed to the alarming spread of urbanisation.
“There are a lot of Spanish people feeling disenfranchised and the average Johnny Spaniard I speak to in the streets is appalled at what is happening in the countryside.
“The problem is getting him to vote or protest as most people are scared to put their heads over the parapit. It is a hangover from the dictatorship, and while it is improving it is still there.”