PLANS to build a luxury golf complex on protected woodland have been temporarily postponed after a legal order was issued banning the felling of trees outside the Avila village of Las Navas del Marques.

Work had started on October 8 to clear an area of pine forest – home to the endangered imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) and the black stork (Ciconia nigra) – for four 18- hole golf courses, two five-star hotels and 1,600 villas one hour’s drive north from Madrid despite a court banning the project days before.

Las Navas del Marques mayor Gerardo Pérez agreed to order the work to stop while the council appeals the court’s decision.

Spain’s Environment Minister Cristina Narbona applauded Señor Pérez’s move to halt the work. She said: “It is good news the felling of trees has stopped.”

The woodlands were classed as green belt land until 2000 when the Las Navas council sold the land to a private company that, according to trade union CCOO, was made up of politicians from the Partido Popular led Castilla y León regional government, the Avila provincial government and members of the local town hall.

Officials from the regional government then green-lighted the 2003 application from a Murcia-based construction company to build a luxury golf complex on the land.

At the start of October, judges at the regional high court of Castilla y León decided the felling of trees to make way for the golf complex should not continue after receiving a fax from a coalition of environmentalists,
including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, that the habitat of two endangered species was at threat.

As the regional government had given the go ahead to the project, work continued unti Señor Pérez signed the legal order for the work to stop.

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