Developer more important than public interest, says judge

LAST UPDATED: 7 Aug, 2007 @ 07:31
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Judge throws Junta’s suspension appeal at Los Merinos Golf out of court as public warned not to buy at golf complex

A MALAGA court has thrown out a request from the regional government to suspend work at the controversial Los Merinos golf development near Ronda.

Judge Asuncion Vallecillo said the interests of the constructor of 800 homes on UNESCO-protected oak woodland should come above the public interest.


She considered the infrastructure works, which have been underway since autumn last year, “could always be reversed and only affect a small proportion of the territory.”

It is understood officials from the Junta de Andalucia, who claim an illegal 69 per cent of the 800-hecatre area is being transformed, will now appeal.

The judge, based in Malaga, explained developer Club de Campo y Golf de Ronda SL “would undoubtedly be severely affected if the suspension happened and then later another decision allowed work to continue.”

She added the work did not constitute a “serious, irreversible destruction of the environment.”

The judge also ignored Junta and water authority concerns there were serious water issues to be resolved.

The regional government has warned the 800 homes will not have a guaranteed supply of fresh water – a fear echoed by the Cuenca Mediterranea Andaluza water authority.

In fact, Vallecillo came down on the side of the developer, arguing “with the documentation they have provided, there is sufficient water in the area.”

The Junta has already appealed the decision by the Ronda town hall to give the developers the go ahead to begin construction.

While Club de Campo y Golf de Ronda SL are also being sued by the state prosecutor and are now being investigated by the European Parliament, the developers continue with their wishes to turn the development into a high-security gated community.

Ronda town hall insists the development, which will also include a double golf course and three luxury hotels, has the backing of “95 per cent of the local population.”

Spokesman of green group Ecologistas en Accion Alejandro Moreno slammed the court’s decision. “I would like to invite the judge to come for a walk at Los Merinos to see what is really happening.

“Whoever goes there can see the majority of land is being altered. You can see it from the road.”

Meanwhile, the environment department of the regional government has hit back at the judge’s decision to refuse to suspend work on the complex.

Speaking after a conference on climate change in Malaga, environment chief Ignacio Trillo warned buyers at the 800-home mego-project might find themselves without water.

Stung by the court’s decision, he said: “I only want to warn people intending to buy whatever type of home at Los Merinos there is no guarantee of water.”

He added aquifers below the development were not only supporting Ronda, Arriate and Cuevas del Becerro, but the whole of the Guadalteba catchment area – an estimated 50,000 people.

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