Cabo de Gata urban plans in spotlight while UN renews Biosphere Reserve status
ENVIRONMENTALISTS have asked Brussels to investigate plans for huge-scale urban projects inside Europe’s largest maritime-terrestrial reserve.
In a formal complaint to the European Commission (EC), members from Ecologistas en Accion have accused the town hall of Carboneras in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park of reclassifying protected land to allow for construction.
Central to the complaint is the Algarrobico hotel. Constructed yards from a virgin beach near Carboneras, the 411-bed complex is currently awaiting demolition. This is after an Almería court declared the complex illegal in 2006.
The group is also concerned over a further two plots of land – Canillar and Rambla de Carboneras, both of which are owned by Azata del Sol, the development company behind the controversial hotel.
Other building projects planned for the park include the 150-home Fabriquilla development near Níjar and a massive residential and tourist complex at nearby Marina de Aguamarga.
Councillors at Níjar Town Hall recently approved the reclassification of 48 hectares of land in the municipality to allow for the construction of the latter development.
However, the provincial environment representative of the Junta de Andalucia, Juan José Luque, has warned the regional government will stop any work on the Marinas de Aguamarga if the local council does not carry out the relevant impact studies.
Covering an area of 177 square miles in Spain’s south-eastern tip, the natural park is home to several species of protected fauna and flora including Europe’s sole native palm, Chamaerops humilis, and the rare Dupont’s lark (Chersophilus duponti).
Meanwhile, the United Nations has renewed the park’s Biosphere Reserve status.
The move follows campaigning from environmentalists and residents’ groups in the face of increased construction in and around the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park.
Cabo de Gata – one of 37 Biosphere Reserves in Spain – was first granted this status in 1997.