ENVIRONMENTALISTS are up in arms over a new law that could allow golf courses and other urban developments in protected natural spaces.
Both Greenpeace and Ecologistas en Accion fear that projects, like the controversial El Algarrobico hotel, could be legalized by the back-door with the new law.
The Junta decree, which both groups have been battling for two years, gives more leeway to approve projects inside a total of 24 natural parks.
The new law – which has been introduced to boost economic activity – will permit schemes that ‘bring economic development’ to the parks.
But green groups believe the law, which was passed last week, is open to abuse by the 238 municipalities inside the parks.
Ecologistas en Accion, which is appealing the decision at Andalucia’s Supreme Court, feels ‘cheated’ with the final wording of the decree.
Andalucia boss Juan Clavero explained that the law made way for all sorts of industrial and tourist developments, including 4×4 routes and golf courses.
“It opens the door to everything,” he said. “We are completely opposed to it”.
Further opposition came from the Asociación de Agentes de Medio Ambiente de Andalucía (AAMAA), which said the law “gives precedence to bricks over conservation.”
President Antonio Gonzalez, said: “It marks a 180 degree turn in the conservation policy of the Ministry of the Environment.”
The law was passed just a week after Rosa Aguilar, Spain’s Environment Minister, insisted Almeria’s Cabo de Gata natural park would ‘soon be free’ of the illegally-built El Algarrobico hotel, which ecologists believe could now be approved.
She declared: “The Spanish government is ready to contribute to its demolition.”
Environment boss for Andalucia Jose Diaz Trillo added: “I can assure you this decree will have no bearing on the hotel.”
But it comes as 30 Greenpeace activists were charged with vandalising the illegal hotel in 2009.
Activists covered the 22-storey building, built on a virgin beach, with a green canvas to symbolically wipe the 411-room hotel from the landscape.
“It is barmy. Greenpeace has to go to court over what the courts have already recognized more than a dozen times: that the hotel is illegal,” said a spokesman.