By Frances Leate

A GROUP of mayors have joined forces with environmentalists in a bid to halt plans to prospect for gas off the Costa del Sol.

The PSOE mayors have joined Greenpeace to publicise the risks of allowing oil giant Repsol to drill some 9km offshore from Mijas in February.

They fear a major environmental disaster similar to that of the Prestige oil tanker spill in 2002.

The town leaders fear the exploration could have a detrimental effect on the tourism industry, the main source of employment in recession-struck Andalucia.

While the government is allowing exploration to begin, in an apparent contradiction, industry minister Jose Manuel Soria last week stated he will not allow exploitation of the gas, even if the tests prove positive.