Aristocrat backs motorway park protest

LAST UPDATED: 4 Jun, 2009 @ 09:19
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Aristocrat backs motorway park protest

ANGRY: Lady Leatham
ANGRY: Lady Leatham
Lady Leatham takes to the streets over Aracena plan

A BRITISH aristocrat is to join the fight against a motorway scheme that will ‘destroy’ the Aracena Natural Park.

Lady Victoria Leatham, 61, will take to the streets to protest against the “absurd” scheme.

Leatham, who has had a home there for 15 years, is furious that the three-motorway plan, is even being considered.

The area is a UNESCO-protected biosphere reserve, and is one of the last areas inhabited by the Iberian lynx.

But, as reported in the Olive Press in February, new roads are to be cut across the park, in Huelva.

While supported by a number of mayors, who believe the roads will bring more prosperity, numerous local Spaniards, as well as the vast majority of expatriates, are opposed to the project.

“What enrages me is the tragedy of destroying the peace of an area that is special for so many reasons”

“These wooded hills are the lungs of Andalucia, and what is being proposed will not bring a single benefit to the area,” said Lady Leatham.

“What enrages me is the tragedy of destroying the peace of an area that is special for so many reasons.”

Lady Leatham, whose ancestral home is Burleigh House, continued: “I’m all for civil disobedience. I’ll be marching against this absurdity.”

Under the first stage of the 500 million euro plan, a high-speed dual carriageway, or Via Rapida, will involve cutting through hillsides and uprooting 10,000 trees. It will pass by the walls of the 13th century castle in Cortegana.

Another new motorway will later disect the park north to south, while another stretch of motorway will link the two new roads in the east.

Manuel Guerra, 40, the socialist mayor of Aracena believes the protests are being made through ignorance.

“The British people who live here are stirring things up,” he said. “They decided to take action without really understanding the issues.

“There is a historic demand to better connect the area with Sevilla, Huelva, and the coast.”

But Rafael Hernandez, the former park director, said: “It’s madness. It means the park will be divided into six separate segments and people will be forced to take long detours to reach their land.”

It will also prove a tragedy for the animal population, especially the endangered Iberian lynx, of which there are just 200 adults left in the wild.

“The park is a corridor between two of the last remaining colonies of lynx and nothing is being done to protect it,” he said.

“People here have been very patient, accepting difficult restrictions imposed on them by park authorities that were necessary to preserve the park’s unique nature,” Mr Mancha said. “The irony is that it will be lost with a plan like this.”

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4 COMMENTS

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  1. It does worry me that this and the piece in the Telegraph have missed the point and by highlighting someone who is titled rather than someone who is fully informed about the situation, we have missed a key opportunity of broadcasting this disaster to individuals in a way that really and truly expresses the full implications for this unique park and it’s full spectrum of inhabitants. Not just the lesser spotted Nob that resides here during the month of August.

  2. I live in Cortegana and there is a huge amount of unrest here over the proposed “Via Rapida”. It cuts through so many smallholdings and properties without so much as a “by your leave” and there are absolutely no benefits to this road other than the councils being awarded European grants. I am trying to find someone in the UK media to take up this fight because the campaign against the absurdity here is falling on deaf ears. My worry is how exactly this can even be considered as it cuts through a UNESCO awarded National Park and surely that counts for something in Europe. If anyone knows of media contacts who might be in a position to help with this increasingly upsetting matter, please contact me.

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