AN environmental impact study into Almuñécar’s revised PGOU urban expansion plan has revealed serious flaws in the project that could see the town’s population surpass 100,000.
The report, drawn up by the environment department of the Junta de Andalucía regional government, claims that under the modified document there will be no guaranteed water supply for the proposed 35,000 new homes for the Costa Tropical town, claiming the hydraulic infrastructure of the entire coast is “insufficient” to support such huge scale population growth.
The impact study also claims 88 protected species of fauna and flora, including the only colony of the common chameleon on the Granada coast, will come under serious threat of extinction from construction while several historical cattle roads – offered special protection under Spanish law – will be destroyed if the revisions are passed by the public work’s department of the regional government.
The revised PGOU received local backing in council sessions on January 16 with the town’s ruling Convergencia Andaluz (CA) political party and the opposition conservative Partido Popular (PP) group lending it their full support. However, socialist party PSOE abstained from the vote in protest at what the group sees as “a bankruptcy of the town.”
“This PGOU will drastically increase Almuñécar’s already crippling debt repayments,” party spokeswoman Rocío Palacios said.
When news of the modifications was announced, they drew immediate stinging criticism from central government with Environment Minister Cristina Narbona calling them “insensitive to local demands.”
The revised PGOU hopes to reclassify more than 20 million square metres of land in and around the town if it is given the go ahead at regional level.
Besides the new homes, proposals for four golf courses, 7,000 new hotel beds, two shopping centres and two new marinas are included in the plan.
However, the study criticised the PGOU for not clarifying how the golf courses will maintain their greens. Under regional law, golf greens must be watered with either desalinated or treated water.
Many see the amendments as a positive for the resort town. “This is what the people of Almuñécar want for the town’s future development,” said Andrés Palacios, the sole member of the Grupo Popular Independiente on the town council.
PP leader in the town and former mayor Juan Luis González Montoro also defended the revised document but warned it will not be given the green light by the Junta de Andalucía under current mayor Juan Carlos Benavides.
“While Benavides is mayor, the Junta de Andalucía is not going to approve the town’s PGOU.”
Indeed, President of the Andalucía Parliament, Manuel Chaves has already warned Almuñécar it needs to adapt its new PGOU for it to be passed.
Meanwhile, Almuñecar council will have to return five million euros to housing developers if the revised PGOU is not given the go ahead.
Newspaper Granada Hoy claims the town council has received this amount of money through the signing of several agreements with construction companies over the past 12 months for work included in the modified town planning agreement.