15 Dec, 2007 @ 11:51
6 mins read

Olive Press news review of the year


Twelve months of corruption, environmental matters and the best English-language coverage of the local issues that matter, the Olive Press brings you an indispensable guide to past year’s events


The first month of the year saw the full launch of the Olive Press western edition. To celebrate the occasion, we brought you the first of many exclusives in 2007. This time it was news of Liberal peer Lord Kilmarnock – author Alistair Boyd – and seven other expatriates, who found themselves facing a lawsuit for voicing their opposition to Los Merinos, a macro-golf project on UN protected land near Ronda.

Elsewhere, the Green party of Granada claimed water destined for a reservoir in La Alpujarra would serve “illegally built housing estates and plastic greenhouses.”

In the first big urban corruption arrest of the year, police swooped on Alhaurín el Grande mayor, Juan Martín Serón, as he left a lunch date with national PP leader Mariano Rajoy. His alleged crime? Receiving “donations” in exchange for building licenses.

A short-lived victory as the regional government ordered a stop to works at the controversial Los Merinos golf complex, stating it goes against “public interest.”

As our photographs later in the year show, the developers continued anyway.

The people of La Alpujarra took to the streets to show their opposition to the proposed reservoir. In a protest held in the market town of Órgiva, thousands heard a UNESCO letter read out that slammed the project. The world heritage group claimed the water would be used in “dubious building projects.” The Junta de Andalucía regional government then conceded defeat and temporarily suspended plans for the reservoir.

The second Olive Press exclusive of the year saw the Inland Revenue present Accident Group boss Mark Langford with writs totalling more than four million UK pounds. Langford, who was to later die in a car accident near Marbella, was infamous for sacking his entire workforce by text message.

Granada was in the glare of the World’s media as the Junta granted a woman’s wish for the artificial respirator that had been keeping her alive for nine years to be turned off. Inmaculada Echevarría had been suffering from muscular dystrophy since 1978.

We ran the first of our three exclusives about real estate company Palmera Properties. This time it was the Mollina residents whose dream homes had fast become the stuff of which nightmares are made as their property crumbled around them.

As investigations in Alhaurín el Grande and several Granada towns continued, the socialist PSOE party claimed the Partido Popular was financed by “urban corruption.” As the year panned out, it became apparent that the last to be throwing stones are those in glass houses.

Brussels came out against Los Merinos, slamming the project “a horror story.”

Sick of rampant construction and the neglect the outlying towns of Antequera receive at the hands of the authorities, a group of worried residents decided to do something about it: they formed their own political party. PABA gained a seat on Antequera’s council in local elections the following month.

In a publicity stunt organised by a Granada fireman, hundreds of thousands formed a human chain around the Alhambra in a bid to garner support for the monument to be chosen as one of the seven modern wonders of the World. They failed.

Spain lost even more of her coastline to cement, bricks and glass as councils in the protected Cabo de Gata park and Murcia reclassified land. However as we shall see, the EU came out fighting with some harsh words against the “environmental catastrophe” wrought by construction in Spain.

Eighty thousand bees were enlisted to fight air pollution in Córdoba.

We followed up an Olive Press exclusive from 2006 with news that a judge had ordered UK Labour MP Margaret Moran to reopen pathways she had ordered bulldozed in La Alpujarra. The socialist, who represents the people of Luton South, did not like people using these centuries-old paths to access their homes.

Speaking of ancient rights of way, the developers behind the Los Merinos project blocked off an important public footpath – the GR7 which stretches from Tarifa in the south of Spain to Greece. An IU representative said: “Our public rights are being abused to satisfy a private enterprise.”

The Olive Press focussed on Madelaine McCann by speaking to Robert Murat, one of the first suspects into the disappearance of the four-year-old.

We then reported on a class action that is being taken against Palmera Properties over homes in Fuente de Piedra, some of which are yet to be built.

The two editions featured the same shocking photograph in early June: the lifeless body of a tiger. But this was not taken in Africa; it was Spain. We reported on a police investigation that uncovered a safari on the Córdoba-Extremadura border. Punters could pay thousands of euros to take shots at lions and wolves.

As PSOE chief of Ronda Ana Fuentes was announcing plans to build a new (“ecologically disastrous”) 200-milion-euro toll road between the town and coast, central government said it would revise plans for a super highway between Andalucía and Madrid as it would pass through a habitat of the endangered Iberian lynx.#

After a fact-finding mission to the country by MEPs, Brussels had a lot to say on the urban abuses of Spain. Comparing the country to the “Wild West,” the “greedy” town halls were “rotten to the core.”

Did someone mention a town hall? The mayor of a small mountain village near Granada was chosen by… the toss of a coin.

As a Málaga judge overturned the earlier stop order on Los Merinos, a second golf complex near Ronda was announced that would see residents lose up to 50 per cent of their land under a controversial “land grab” scheme.

A judge saw sense and dismissed the multi-million-euro lawsuit brought against Alistair Boyd.

In Granada, two controversial development schemes received a setback as opponents of the proposed world’s longest cable car said it would destroy the environment as it passes from Granada to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The Olive Press reported that the police were investigating the Coto de la Macairana golf project, designed by Millennium Dome architect Sir Richard Rogers.

Environmentalists daubed the words “illegal hotel” on an illegal hotel in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park in Almería.

Striking binmen ensured it was a smelly summer in Almuñecar as it was suggested the regional government could have been aware of the illegal activity in Marbella town hall (inherent fraud, cash for building licences). We reported on a crackdown on Sky TV users in the south of Spain that has resulted in blank screens for hundreds around Andalucía.

The proposed Ronda “land grab” was dismissed as “unsustainable” by the Junta as a huge housing development for Alhaurin el Grande was cancelled.

The Junta finally pulled the plug on the proposed Alpujarra reservoir that would have “resulted in the death of the region,” according to opponents. Two men who fought against a proposed quarry near Órgiva were both given an 18-month suspended prison sentence for, as they put it, “protecting the environment.”

We reported on the sad fact that Gerald Brenan’s Churianna home has been allowed to fall into a state of abandon. The writer of South from Granada lived in the Queen of Los Angeles in the 1950s and 1960s.

Driving over Lemons author Chris Stewart railed against the politics of brick that dominates Spain as we speculate if a fire was started deliberately to obtain planning permission.

Our exclusive photographs show that hundreds of transplanted trees at the Los Merinos site could die as experts claim the process was not carried out correctly. Inspectors are then refused access to a Ronda sewage works as they investigate what caused the death of thousands of fish in a nearby river.

Torrential rainfall causes millions of euros of damage as floods wreak havoc on Almuñecar. Critics claim rampant construction worsened the situation while the mayor who won election by the toss of a coin faces a probe into illegal building in the village.

The government announces plans to rid the coastline of thousands of constructions and the Guardia Civil claim plastic greenhouses cause “environmental destruction.”

We report on the plight of dancing bears and chained dogs in Spain.

A mausoleum is unearthed in Berja, Almería. However, this is not enough to stop plans for a luxury housing development.

A tourist is beaten up by security guards at the Alhambra palace in Granada as extremists battle through the city’s streets on the anniversary of Franco’s death.

As the Guardia Civil investigate “irregularities” in a Sierra Nevada mineral water project, more details on the controversial road between Ronda and the Costa del Sol are announced.

We wonder if big cat footprints could belong to either the La Cala Cougar or an Iberian lynx – in inland Málaga.

A report claims that the habitat of 5 per cent of the entire world population of Bonelli’s eagle will be destroyed when the Los Merinos golf complex is finally completed.

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