7 Oct, 2010 @ 11:32
1 min read

Europe’s new battle of Trafalgar

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.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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  1. What is mayor Verdu on? Accusing PELP and other people who oppose his ill-conceived project of having “totalitarian values” is rather ironic. More than 50,000 people support the campaign against the massive development of one of the best stretches of coast in Spain – hardly a “small group” who don’t care for Vejer. The only people who support Verdu is his political allies (from all parties, not just his own) and the developers, all of whom see short-term juicy profits to be made from the unbridled exploitation of natural resources which should be defended for future generations.

  2. It’s utter madness, we need more concrete! What are these silly petitioners thinking?! Some lovely highrises and apartment blocks and car parks can only enhance the area!

    Sounds stupid doesn’t it? Yet, that is how the Spanish think when it comes to planning.

  3. It was priceless that the mayor of Verdu called environment protestors a ‘Catalunya’ interest group. He was really saying … butt the hell out. The future of Andalusia’s beaches are for Andalusians to decide. Verdu rejects all opinions from Barcelona lefties, Basque separatists and Gib colonists ; )

  4. I just caught the end of a programme on the ARTE channel here in France. This channel is a joint French/German one.

    It showed Germany’s Baltic coast – what a difference. Total respect for the environment. Behind the beaches was an un-interrupted corridor of dunes/grasses and natural trees and then a road and beautifully built and maintained hotels and houses – no high rises and no bloody golfcourses.

    By 2050 the whole of southern Europe/north Africa will just be desert and countries like Scotland and southern Norway and the northern coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark will have very cold winters but very hot summers with lots of sun – can I lop a few decades off my age, no I thought not – life’s a bitch

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