A POPULATION of endangered tortoise is under threat after work on one of the largest purpose built tourist resorts in Europe was given the greenlight.
There are fears that the 5,000 acre development on virgin coast of Murcia will bring an end to the spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca), which is found in two small pockets in Spain.
Environmentalists are protesting against plans by the regional government to allow the construction of Marina del Cope, a complex that will include 9,000 homes, 20,000 hotel beds, five golf courses and a marina for 2,000 boats.
“This development will destroy one of the last unspoiled corners of the Murcia coastline, which is an area of great environmental value, and endanger the survival of the protected spur-thighed tortoise,” a spokesman from Ecologistas en Accion said.
As reported in the Olive Press (Spain loses more virgin coastline as councils declassify protected land, issue 21), the development is earmarked for protected land that was declassified last year.
Called an “international reference point for quality tourism” by the Partido Popular regional government, the project enjoys the support of town halls in nearby Águilas and Lorca.
But opponents have labelled the development “a backward step.”
“Taking steps backward in the protection of natural spaces cannot be allowed in any civilized country,” claim organisers of the campaign to Save Cabo de Cope Natural Park.
Other than the Cabo de Cope park, the spur-thighed tortoise – or Greek tortoise – is found in the Doñana National Park in southern Andalucía.