‘Gentleman scholar’ Alastair Boyd became the victim of a “mafia-style” campaign by golf developers after opposing the controversial Los Merinos scheme
By Jon Clarke
SPANISH environmentalists will lead the tributes to Lord Kilmarnock – ‘one of the last breed of Gentlemanly scholars’ – who died this week.
Alastair Boyd, 81, who lived in Ronda for many years, was closely involved in a number of important campaigns to protect the local environment.
The author of countless books on Spain had was well known among environmental circles as someone principled and thoughtful.
Friend Juan Terroba, spokesman for local green group Silvema, said: “He was a very principled, noble man. A real fighter for the environment and charming with it.”
But it was this belief in conservation, which led to a vicious “mafia-style” court case launched against him two years ago.
As reported in the Olive Press, Boyd was sued by developers for publicly criticising the controversial Los Merinos golf course development built on UNESCO-protected land near Ronda.
The stress of the seven million euro lawsuit two years ago was, according to friends, the start of the ill health that led to his death.
“It hit him like a hammer and it was the origin of his ill health,” insisted Terroba, who had worked with him on a number of campaigns.
“It was a disgrace to put a pensioner of his age into a massive storm like that.”
Boyd – who was chief of the Clan Boyd, one of Scotland’s greatest noble families – got increasingly unwell as developers behind the scheme took him and two other expatriates to court for a total of 22 million euros.
The trio had merely signed petitions and given their views that the project was not good for the environment.
He was quoted as saying: “The scheme is completely unsustainable. The high demand for scarce water in a period of increasing drought will inevitably degrade the environment.
“The plague of buildings on green and protected land is threatening the long term interest of the region.”
The Spanish Green Party claimed the group had been subject to “mafia-style harassment that has come out of the alliance between politicians and developers”.
His health deteriorated rapidly as the Spanish courts started investigating his opposition to the £100 million double golf course scheme with 800 houses and two luxury hotels.
Boyd – who wrote a trilogy of books about Ronda – was particularly worried about losing the historic smallholding he shared with wife Hilary Bardwell, the mother of writer Martin Amis.
Eventually the case was thrown out of court on the basis of freedom of speech.
“But it went on for over a year and was a particularly vicious attack,” Terroba told the Olive Press. “All he did was express his opinion in a few phrases. It was very unfair.”
Terroba, who was also taken to court by developers JM Legion Espanola, added: “Upper class people and foreigners often keep a low profile. He was always getting involved.”
Other campaigns, such as a long 15-year campaign to have a sewage works installed in Ronda, were more successful.
Finally – after lobbying in Brussels, using contacts he had made sitting in the House of Lords for 20 years – a sewage works began working last year.
Another friend, writer Michael Jacobs, said: “He was one of the last breed of gentlemanly scholars on Spain.
“He perpetuated the idea of Romanticism in Spain, spoke impeccable Spanish and was very knowledgeable on the country and its history.”
The author of Spanish bestseller A Factory of Light added: “One might have expected him to have been stuffy and dry, but he was the complete opposite. A truly lovely man who will be sorely missed.”
His funeral was on Friday, while a memorial service has been called for next Thursday (March 26) at 7pm at a school near his home in La Indiana, Ronda.