Land Grab Scuppered

LAST UPDATED: 31 Aug, 2007 @ 08:39
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Despite hard-hitting Junta report rejecting “unsustainable” Parchite Golf, Ronda mayor Antonio Marin Lara insists the scheme is legal and still goes ahead

THE Junta has thrown out a plan for another golf course scheme in Ronda.

The 334-home Parchite project, which also featured two luxury hotels, has been comprehensively overruled by Malaga’s environment department.


The controversial 350-hectare scheme – which the Olive Press revealed last issue would involve the illegal land grab of over a dozen local residents – was passed by Ronda town hall in December.

In a stinging criticism of the 15million-euro scheme, a hard-hitting viability study states that it is “clearly unsustainable” and could have a “very negative impact on the area’s environment.”

The report continues that the golf course would “alter irreversibly” an area that was 75 per cent full of important local species, including oak trees and the endangered Perdicera eagle.

According to the DIA (Declaracion de Impacto Ambiental), the reports by Ronda town hall are not sufficient in respect to environmental protection.

It says the project falls short in a number of other areas such as water.

It is is particularly concerned that the aquifer, that feeds the villages of Arriate, Setenil and Cueves del Becerro could be poisoned.

“The water supply could be contaminated by undesirable chemicals, such as pesticides and fertilisers used to treat golf fairways.”

It is another blow to a project that the water board has already ruled that does not have sufficient water.

In addition, the EU is already investigating the “land grab” aspect of the scheme, which is just across the road from other controversial golf project Los Merinos.

The petitions committee has ordered investigators to look into the legality of the scheme.

“Legal”

Ronda town hall remained bullish, however. Mayor Antonio Marin Lara insisted that the scheme had been passed by the Junta as long ago as 1993.

He argued that it was “completely legal” and that it was included correctly in previous PGOU general plans for the town.

The decision meanwhile has come as further relief for 11 residents of the Heredad de Parchite, who face losing land if the scheme is passed.

The group, which includes Spaniards, British and Germans, bought on the estate on the understanding that it was green, non-development land.

They face losing “up to 50 per cent” of their land to the development without compensation.

They also fear they will be forced to pay millions of euros for the infrastructure costs.

They wrote to the EU claiming that it had been approved by Ronda town hall “under the umbrella of yet another golf course project, which means more houses and a further unnecessary use of water in Andalucia.

“The area is woodland countryside, and its Spanish oaks are protected by Spanish environmental law.”

One resident Azzam Qasrawi told the Olive Press: “This is very encouraging, but also quite alarming – and not too surprising – that the mayor of Ronda Marin Lara still wants it to go ahead.”

He pointed out that while Lara claims the plans were accepted in 1993, the official Plan de Sectorizacion (the first step for any development) was only put forward and approved in 2006.

“We think it is outrageous that he can consider going on when this has been such a stinging rebuke.

“We implore the Junta to take quick legal action if it continues and we are already anticipating a big legal fight ourselves.”

Izquierda Union boss for Andalucía, Antonio Romero, welcomed the report but implored that the Junta continued its attempts to stop such golf course projects in the Serrania de Ronda, including Los Merinos – a macro golf, tourist and residential project planned for the town.

He said: “The Junta should use all its legal and political muscle to stop Los Merinos from going ahead. It should not throw in the towel and continue fighting all such urban crimes in the Serrania de Ronda.”

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