THE mayor of a small Malaga town has come under attack for allowing the construction of nearly 200 homes alongside a celebrated nature reserve.
Bernadino Gaona has been criticised for giving permission to the Los Picachos development above the protected Arroyo de la Ventilla.
The Arriate mayor – who represents the Izquierda Union party, the only political group to have opposed the Los Merinos golf project that will see golf courses and several thousand homes built on protected land near Ronda – has been denounced after clearance work, including the felling of oak trees began.
The council is said to be earning 570,000 euros for the scheme, according to online magazine El Observador.
The project, which has been christened a “new Los Merinos” by environmental campaigners, involves 187 houses being constructed.
The homes, which cover an area of 110,000 square metres, could lead to the increase of Arriate’s population by almost a quarter.
The development by Eleven Desarollos Inmobiliarias SL has been slammed by green group Ecologistas en Accion and various other groups for its location next to the stunning Ventilla valley.
The area is listed as having Environmental protection status.
The beautiful valley, which is a popular walking and picnic spot for local residents, is a wooded paradise.
Environmentalists have condemned the fact the project has allegedly not yet received the correct permission for digging wells.
“It is not acceptable,” said Alejandro Moreno of Ecologistas en Accion. “The situation with water provision and dispersal of sewerage is completely wrong. There has been no proper consultation process and the correct environmental studies have not been undertaken.
“This is a further example of a town making money from a scheme. It is further proof that, like Los Merinos, the whole Ronda area is being built upon.”
Arriate resident Francisco Marin added: “The fragile equilibrium of the Ventilla gorge cannot support this project.
“The big ecological value of the area, its fauna, geology and landscape should not be played with. This project is putting it in great danger.”