By Wendy Williams
THE EU has stepped in to investigate a controversial plan that would see one of Andalucía’s last virgin beaches destroyed by urban speculation.
The European Commission is investigating whether to oppose the scheme to build a twin hotel complex at El Palmar, near Vejer de la Frontera.
Over 50,000 signatures have so far been collected in a petition opposed to the plan. Developers want to build the 500-room complex – and possible golf course – just 400m from the stunning beach, that lies alongside the emblematic Trafalgar lighthouse.
News of the investigation comes as a step forward for campaigners and nature lovers in the ongoing battle with Vejer town hall, which has backed the proposals.
Local hotelier James Stuart, of Hotel Califa, said: “This is excellent news for the area. “While I am not a campaigner, as such, I think it is vital to protect this, one of the last unspoilt beaches in Spain.”
Now European officials want to examine if the proposed plans adhere to EU environment directives.
The investigation, announced by the Environment Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, was launched following a parliamentary question from Green Euro MP Raül Romeva.
He complained that the beautiful unspoilt area contains an important mix of beach, dune, marshland, steppe, salt flats and Mediterranean pastureland.
The area is also home to rare flora which is on the endangered list.
According to local protest group PELP, if given the chance, the beach could become “an example of real sustainable development, responsible tourism and awareness”.
A spokesman told the Olive Press: “The few miles of unspoilt beaches left in our country should not succumb to the concrete development that has already decimated the Spanish coastline.
“The preservation of natural resources and virgin wilderness areas is of paramount importance.”
The group’s calls have already been met by Andalucia’s IU boss Gaspar Llamazares, who demanded further investigation.
The move has angered Vejer mayor Antonio Verdu, who defended the project saying: “This has come from a Green MP from Catalunya who has only taken his information from the mouth of a small group with totalitarian values and no care for Vejer.
“The only thing unsustainable about the totally legal scheme is their arguments.”
The commission has ordered the Spanish authorities to provide the necessary paperwork before the project can go ahead.