THE mayors of Ronda and Arriate are supporting a plan to protect Ronda’s beautiful Llano de la Cruz valley against a damaging railway freight scheme.
Both have also asked for a month’s extension to give residents and businesses time to formulate their allegations against the project, that is part of the so-called Mediterranean Corridor.
Under the scheme announced last month, a new railway spur could see 700m-long freight trains running through the valley 24 hours a day.
The 711 million euro scheme – which has been on the drawing board in Ronda for at least two years, it can be revealed – would force the closure of dozens of hotels and ‘turismo rurales’.
According to locals it could lead to the loss of over 100 jobs and more than five million euros of spending by tourists in the area per year.
Cristina Piek, the president of the Asociacion Ferrocarril El Llano de La Cruz, was keen to stress however, that her group was not against the project, but just wanted it altered.
The German owner of luxury hotel Fuente de la Higuera – one of those that would be badly affected – insisted it was vital to minimize the damage for the valley, which has up to 1000 homes and four rural hotels.
“The consequences for the economy and environment will be very negative,” said Piek, who has been running the hotel for 15 years.
In addition, there are around 40 rental homes in the valley, which bring in, according to an initial calculation, around 3.64m euros a year.
“This is money spent in local restaurants, buying local artefacts such as leather goods, renting bikes, going horseriding and visiting bodegas,” explained one owner Mike Winn.
“The knock on effect will be enormous.”
A poster has been designed to raise awareness and a petition launched.
Anyone wishing to send their support or disapproval can send an email to [email protected]