Battle looms over plans to start work beside Sierra de las Nieves national park
NEIGHBOURS are fighting a new plan to reopen a quarry in Unesco-protected woodland beside the Sierra de las Nieves national park.
The locals in Casarabanela had been promised four years ago that the disused quarry, then owned by an English company, would never be reopened.
But now town’s mayor Sebastian Gomez Ponce has announced his agreement to let a new company start mining in the autumn.
Despite over 92 per cent of the town being opposed to the move – and quarries and cement factories laying off staff due to the recession – the mayor says he is powerless.
“He told us that the town hall can’t afford to get into a legal row as it is in debt,” said David Biram, a Briton who built a house near the quarry five years ago.
“But he made it very clear that there was no way it was going to open again while he was mayor.
“Now while other quarries are slowing down due to demand – Yunquera nearby is hardly working at all – they want to open one here. It doesn’t make sense.”
The company had originally got a licence to reopen the quarry from the town hall 14 years ago. It first shut down in 1992.
But now a new mining company – as yet unspecified by the town hall – has told the mayor that if it is not allowed to open it will sue him for damages.
The so-called ‘cooperative’ of miners, which apparently bought the land from English company Salmonds Cox, has given him two months for a reply.
“He has told us there is nothing he can do, but we are all very sceptical,” continued Biram. “We don’t understand what has changed since 2004. Surely it is the same situation and the new owners must have been aware of the town’s stance?
“What is his motivation? Is it the big licence fee that will no doubt come to the town hall?”
Local party AGIC has demanded the mayor sticks with his promise.
Councillor Franciso Armada said: “He is breaking all the agreements he has made. He must stick to his promise.”
Locals now have reactivated a platform set up to fight the quarry four years ago.
Backed by environment group Ecologistas en Accion, they vow to fight all the way to the European courts if necessary.
They insist that the land is in the Unesco protected Biosphere Reserve set up alongside the Sierra de las Nieves national park.
“This is one of the last beautiful areas of stunning countryside,” explained Biram. “It is on the edge of the national park and needs protecting. At the very least we expect a proper environmental assessment report.”
The mayor was unavailable for comment as we went to press.
Download issue 20 (Western edition) from here to find Chris Stewart’s article on his battle against a quarry in Granada.