Outrage over ‘safari’ plan to turn one of Spain’s most valuable protected estates into millionaire’s polo and shooting playground

LAST UPDATED: 17 Nov, 2013 @ 19:22
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Outrage over ‘safari’ plan to turn one of Spain’s most valuable protected estates into millionaire’s polo and shooting playground

THE government is preparing to sell off one of Andalucia’s most valuable public estates to create a hunting, polo and golf macroproject.

Plans are well advance for the €200m  auction of the enormous La Almoraima estate, near Sotogrande.

The government envisages ‘a Ritz-style’ grand resort, replete with two golf courses, private airport and a hunting zone for the estate, in Castellar de la Frontera.

Despite all parties in the town opposing the development and critics arguing that it would endanger the important environmental values of Almoraima, the sale is scheduled before the end of the year.

Bids are expected to be between €180 and €250 million for the 141km square estate – one of Spain’s largest – which sits largely (90%) inside the Alcornocales Natural Park.

“Here I see a Ritz, a Four Seasons or a Mandarin Oriental, a great resort,” admitted Isabel Ugalde Ruiz de Assin, manager of the resort, since 2012. “There would be no resort in Europe as big as this.”

The plan to sell the estate had first had lift off under the government of Jose Luis Zapatero in 2010.

An initial proposal envisages a five star hotel, at least two golf courses, a polo pitch, horse riding and an air strip.

An existing dozen buildings inside the protected area of the estate would be turned into exclusive lodges for tourists, which could be used for hunting.

The estate, which was expropriated from disgraced tycoon Jose Maria Ruiz-Mateos in 1983, has long hosted hunts of deer and wild boar.

“It will be nothing more than an exclusive hunting estate” said current mayor of Castellar Juan Casanova Correa (IU).

“They want to offer the concept of safaris in Europe. That clients arrive by private jet and head off hunting.

“It is a model that we are fundamentally opposed to. We intend to block it every step of the way.”

Critics will also draw parallels with the infamous Los Merinos project, near Ronda, built in a Unesco protected area alongside the Sierra de las Nieves natural park.

While currently on hold, it would have seen 1000 houses and three luxury hotels built in an area of virgin woodland.

You can sign a petition against the plans here.

6 COMMENTS

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  1. What another piece of fairy tail reporting from OP , don’t let the facts get in in the way of a good story. Go ask juan Carlos,about his shoot in good old Sotogrande. Viva el Rey y viva el ley. Bring on some investment in soto , we sure need some

  2. What a major opposing a development , he must not have been offered a big enough bung. Hold on , just read the rest of the story, sorry castellar major, you were taken out of context. You meant to say increase the reseRch grant my. Donkey needs some new shoes.

  3. Doesn’t matter which party is in power, the tune is the same – play up to the rich.
    The area, 141sq.km, less than 12km square, is just not big enough for this huge project. I can see it spreading outwards into the whole of the Alcornocales Natural Park, the public losing their rights in favour of a private playground.
    These national parks need to be declared a national asset, owned by the people and not up for grabs by any Tom, Dick or Harry.
    250 million is peanuts for thousands of billionares around the world, why not sell off Spain itself?

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