EURO MP Michael Cashman has joined the battle to save a huge area of Unesco-protected woodland threatened by a controversial golf macro-project.
The former Eastenders star, who turned Labour MEP in 1999, has written to British newspapers in support of nine protestors – including three northern Europeans – who are being sued for 21 million euros by developers for opposing the scheme.
Insisting the Los Merinos project near Ronda is “in clear violation of environmental law,” he describes the lawsuit of the developers as “completely unacceptable.”
Describing the fate of the protestors – including expatriate author Alastair Boyd, aka Lord Kilmarnock – as a “horror story,” he said he would be urging Spain’s socialist PSOE party to step in and act in defence of citizens’ rights.
Using his position as vice chairman of the European Parliament’s petitions committee, he said he would be pushing for the blocking of EU funds to Spain if it can be proven that some element of the project may contravene EU laws such as public procurement, habitats or water.
He added the European Parliament may take Spain to the European Court of Justice for allowing the illegal procurement of land and water rights.
Speaking exclusively to the Olive Press, he said: “Despite being horrified to hear of the problems facing Lord Kilmarnock, I regret such a horror story is not uncommon in Spain.”
Human rights abuse
The Labour MEP for the West Midlands, who appeared in TV dramas such as Doctor Who and Angels before joining Eastenders, added: “I have been working hard over the past few years to defend citizens’ rights in Spain against what can only be described as wide spread abuses of human rights.
“Moreover, these massive development projects often violate EU public procurement law and it is clear to me they are also in violation of EU environmental law.
“But the fact that individuals are being sued for merely stating their opposition to such projects is completely unacceptable.”
Already involved in campaigning against the so-called “Land Grab” expropriation law, which has seen thousands of foreign buyers losing property to developers across Spain, the MEP has promised to investigate the case further.
Despite the Spanish water board and environment department insisting work on the project should stop, developers are continuing work on the double golf course scheme, which will also include 800 houses and three luxury hotels.
Developers Promociones Club de Campo y Golf de Ronda SL insist the scheme is entirely legal and the town hall of Ronda is completely behind the scheme.
Cashman, however, vows to do whatever he can to turn this around.
The MEP, who was famously the first man to kiss another on British television in his role as Colin Russell in Eastenders, continued: “I personally pledge to continue to do all I can at European level to support all citizens affected by these abusive laws.
“I want to put a halt to the unacceptable behaviour of individual developers who clearly have no qualms about trampling on citizens’ rights in order to make a quick buck.
“I hope that Spain will react quickly to the ever growing list of complaints against such abusive laws, which are living nightmares for affected citizens and they must stop.
“I urge all politicians in Spain, from all political parties to unite in defence of citizens’ rights. I will be contacting my Spanish socialist colleagues to urge them to act and pledge support.
“If Spain continues to allow these abuses to occur, I am convinced the European Commission will take Spain to the European Court of Justice.
“Sooner or later justice will be done. I hope for Lord Kilmarnock and those affected it is sooner rather than later.”