Hotel saga takes another twist

LAST UPDATED: 6 Apr, 2009 @ 16:39
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AlgarrobicoDevelopment company accepts compensation for illegal hotel… but from whom?

THE company behind “the symbol of Spain’s coastal destruction” has agreed an apparent compensation package for the illegal tourist development.

Directors from Azata del Sol claim to have accepted 100 million euros from central government for the Algarrobico hotel, built upon virgin sands inside the Cabo de Gata Natural Park.

But confusion now reigns after Madrid denied such a deal had ever been made while maintaining there has been no contact between the government and Azata since earlier this year.

“One hundred million euros is an excessive amount. Whatever offer we make for the hotel, it will be far inferior to this sum.

“We entered into talks with the developers to purchase the hotel before demolishing it. However, discussion has been on hold since March 2008,” a spokesman for the ministry of the environment said.

It is believed that Azata announced the supposed agreement after receiving an independent valuation of the land and construction.

“This is a fair sum. It is time for the government to pay us the money,” Azata spokesman Antonio Baena said.

Political, environmental and residents’ groups that have long opposed the construction of the hotel have slammed the government for entering in discussion with the development company.

They claim Azata should be forced to pay for any demolition and that public funds should not be wasted on restoring the land upon which the 411-bed complex sits.

“If talk of 100 million euros is correct, each Spaniard has to pay three euros out of his own pocket for this illegality. This amount is exorbitant and goes to show the favouritism shown to development companies in Spain.

“We demand that the hotel is demolished without any compensation paid to Azata del Sol and all costs incurred in returning the land to its natural state are paid by those responsible for allowing this monstrosity,” said a spokesman for residents’ group, Salvemos Mojacar.

Algarrobico has been at the centre of controversy for more than two years. In February 2006, judges in Almería stopped work on the complex after finding it infringed upon protected land in Europe’s largest terrestrial-maritime nature reserve.

Two months later, the Junta de Andalucía regional government called it made public its intentions to demolish the hotel.

Environmental group Greenpeace daubed the words ‘illegal hotel’ on the construction before calling it the “shameful symbol of coastal destruction in Spain.”

The hotel would have become part of a huge tourist complex including six further hotels, a golf course and luxury housing.

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