Flushed away

LAST UPDATED: 20 Oct, 2008 @ 08:25
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Why has Los Merinos begun without a licence?Government has two months to give answers on schemes, including Los Merinos and others in Ardales and Colmenar

THE European Commission has launched an investigation into why hundreds of housing projects without a guaranteed water supply are already underway in Spain.

Some 264 housing and golf developments have been singled out in the probe.

The Spanish Government now has two months to explain how each project was passed without permission for water.

Heavy punishments could be meted out if it is discovered that licenses were given out illegally.

EU Environment boss Stavros Dimas has asked for full details of all the developments. He wants to clarify why thousands of homes are being built – or land is being prepared – despite receiving negative reports regarding the availability of water.

Of special concern to Brussels are 129 residential developments in Valencia, 121 in Murcia, six in Castilla-La Mancha and eight in Andalucía.

These include golf projects in Ardales, Colmenar and Ugijar in Granada, as well as the controversial Los Merinos scheme in Ronda.

The double golf course scheme with 800 houses and three luxury hotels on protected once-virgin land has been underway for over a year despite having no permission for water and being ordered to stop by the Junta.

Despite developers being told that the scheme would damage the aquifer to four villages, thousands of ancient oak trees have been transplanted in order to carve out the infrastructure.

First reported by the Olive Press in 2006, it was described last month on national TV channel La Sexta as one of the “most barbaric crimes against the Spanish environment of all time”.

The Cuenca Meditteranea water board has denied its application for 595,000 cubic metres of water a year.

In Ardales a number of schemes criticised by the Green Party would see the town grow by nearly 500 per cent from the existing 2,500 residents to 13,500 residents.

The Water board has turned down projects, that include two golf courses and some 3,850 new homes.

Each was passed by the mayor and boss of Malaga province Salvador Pendon.

The EU believes that all of the 264 projects are breaking European water directives.

The probe was launched after an official complaint by Spain’s Green Party.

Legislation is to come into force next year prohibiting any construction that places an unnecessary burden on water supplies.

“Spain’s housing boom is incompatible with the sustainable development that Brussels demands,” said Spanish Green Party MEP David Hammerstein, who issued the complaint.

“Next year Spain, like the rest of the member states of the EU, will have to present a plan for each hydrographic basin that guarantees the sustainability of water resources,” he added.

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