IT has been a long and drawn out saga, which goes back to the re-zoning of the area of Los Merinos in 1992.
While the plans by Ronda town hall were later ratified by the Junta, restrictions on what exactly could be built on the land have always been tough.
The issue of water has been one of the main stalling points with the water board long insisting that the developers would not be allowed to take water from the underground aquifer that feeds local towns including Arriate and Cuevas del Becerro.
The Olive Press has been reporting on the case since our first issue in November 2006 when we splashed on the fact that developers had cut off the Andalucia-wide GR-7 public footpath to begin the works.
The following issue we reported how three expatriates were being sued for 21 million euros for publicly criticising the scheme. One of them had done little more than send a fax to a website.
By March 2007 the scheme was in full swing, and we managed to get a series of exclusive shots of the development from the air. It was fairly clear how much the area of virgin woodland had already been altered.
The following issue we reported on the lamentable justice system in Spain (an issue we touched on again last month). We drew attention to the fact that a councillor, who allegedly assaulted a woman, was tried and absolved of the crime in just a fortnight, while the courts were taking months to deliberate on the works at Los Merinos, which were rapidly progressing, despite a stop order from the Junta.
Two weeks later the EU started investigating the case, with Euro MP Michael Cashman talking about the “arrogance” of Spanish developers and particularly singling out Ronda.
Last July we report how the case against the Los Merinos Three had sensibly been thrown out of court, while the EU voted to fight urban corruption in Spain.
The next issue the Junta’s environment boss Fuensanta Coves warned buyers from investing at Los Merinos, saying that it had “no guarantee of water”.
Their situation has not changed, despite a pro-development judge throwing out their case to temporarily stop the works.
They appealed to the Supreme Court and meanwhile the developers continue carving up the framework of the development and in particular transplanting thousands of protected oak trees, with our exclusive photos in October showing that many have apparently died.
The following issue the mayor of Ronda was charged with corruption, after giving the development permission to continue when it still hadn’t met environmental criteria.
In November we reported how bird group SEO claimed that up to eight of the world’s rare and protected Bonelli’s eagles were using the Los Merinos area.
Finally in February we visited the Los Merinos site with Spain’s Greenpeace boss Juan Lopez de Uralde, who told us: “Los Merinos must be urgently stopped.”
Last month protesters once again started up their campaign to stop the works, in particular with a burial protest at Cuevas town hall.