28 Nov, 2011 @ 16:25
2 mins read

Rail tunnel plea for Ronda valley

UP to 200 homeowners and hoteliers have met to discuss ways to oppose a scheme that would ‘destroy’ tourism in Ronda’s popular Llano de la Cruz valley.

The group – who are setting up a platform against the project – heard how a planned rail link would primarily be for freight trains, which ‘could run four times an hour day and night’.

This would effectively destroy a strong and important tourist sector not just for Ronda but for the whole of Andalucia,” said local British resident Ray Ward.

Why would anyone come and stay in this valley to be kept up all night?”

The new line will be part of the so-called Meditteranean Corridor, which is part of a European-wide scheme to move freight faster and more efficiently through the continent.

It will link the deep water port of Algeciras with Rotterdam, Hamburg and even further north in Finland and Russia.

We believe that much of the cost is being paid by some of the big freight companies and even China in order to get its goods into Europe quicker,” said one speaker.

This could mean 700m-long freight trains rumbling through the valley 24 hours a day.

Of course we support green initiatives, but not at the cost of destroying our valley.

An obvious solution is to put the whole section underground in a tunnel.”

The meeting was held on the day that the chief of China’s $410 billion Chinese Investment Corporation told the Financial Times that it would start investing in EU railway and infrastructure projects from next year.

The group – that comprises a mix of Spanish and northern European expats – believe that promises of bringing the AVE fast track trains to Ronda and Algeciras is ‘nothing more than a sweetener’ to push plans through.

Some of the group believe that a so-called ‘preferred’ option beside the existing track – which would also be damaging – is merely a smokescreen.

For starters the chosen route ends in Ronda, with no clear plan on how the trains would then go from there down to La Indiana and then Algeciras,” explained Ward.

Meanwhile the other route published, route 3, gets from Antequera to La Indiana directly.

They are not matching like for like. It does not make sense.”

Others were angry that government intentions were released with none of those directly affected warned.

Indeed, it was only after the Olive Press sent out photos of the possible ‘alternative route 3’ that many of them found out.

At least a dozen houses will be bulldozed and nearly two dozen hotels and ‘turismo rurales’ will be seriously affected.

The impact to local tourism will be huge with one estimate claiming a loss of millions of euros spent in the area, per year.

It is understood the town halls of Ronda and Arriate are already opposing the route, while the local IU party has spoken out.

Interested parties only have until December 23 to enter their allegations.

Numerous celebrities and dignitories have stayed in the valley, including actor Adrien Brody, DJ Fatboy Slim, bullfighters including Cayetano and Fran Rivera.

Even British Prime Minister David Cameron came for a holiday two years ago.

One local hotelier Andy Chapell, whose hotel Molino del Santo is not even affected by the scheme, turned up to offer support.

It is a fantastically important area for wildlife and tourism,” he explained. “If there is a way to minimise the impact by using a tunnel, then planners and politicians must insist on it.

We do not have the right to ruin an area of outstanding beauty if it can be avoided. The livelihoods and quality of life of local residents – and the many visitors who delight in its natural peace – must be respected.

We must use technical abilities to the full to save what can never be replaced.”

Eloise Horsfield

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11 Comments

  1. If this goes ahead, the whole can wave goodbye to the investment it has made over the years for discerning tourism. Ronda and the Arriate valley attracts high-value tourism who can unlike the cheap and cheerful Costas will choose to take their cash elsewhere. Unless they are part of a trainspottinh holiday club , why would they come? This is a killing of the goose that lays the golden egg for this part of the world. Tunneling is straightforward and relatively cheap. Move freight around Europe by all means but don’t decimate communities as you do.

  2. linking shipping ports like Algeciras and Rotterdam by train

    is like

    linking airports like Malaga and Manchester by train

    A ship will take about 4 days from Gibraltar to Rotterdam …. do the math.

    …. if that ship is en route without loosing a day + coming in & unloading it will take a mere 2 days from the Algeciras longtitude ……. to Rotterdam.

    To unload plastic-garbage-carrying ships from China in Algeciras on to 700m long freight trains so they can rumble through quaint Ronda up North is pure phantasy or most likely a smokescreen for other dubious money making schemes !

  3. Doing the math Ali, but not necesary. The railes route from Algeciras is going all about Europe, no need going to Rotterdam. Saying plastic-garbage-carrying ships gives you away, prejudica excellent but low knowledge. Read the internet about the Meditteranean Corridor, read facts not make fiction. Cam is correct for Ronda and Arriate the tourists not coming. They must make a tunel. Making ideas the Corridor is crazy can please the railes governments and companies the people in Ronda are stupid and cemented across. They are not they want intelligent ideas to keep their beautiful area protected knowing the route is needing to go to Algeciras port and for high benefits for Spain and the industry and labour employment. Crazy people do not read or think away from their little views and seeing garbage in the other places but not in their minds.

  4. I’m hearing rumors that the lawyers representing the platform are the same ones who work for the Merinos developers ie one of the biggest looters and despoilers of Romda’s natural landscape so far and who tried to get all opposed to that scandalous development (still in the courts ASAP of operation acinipio) in jail including Ally Boyd! Anybody know if this is true? If so it ca ‘t be right, looks dodgy to me

  5. This time it has taken only five comments to degenerate into the usual trolls’ playground. How sad, when there might have been interesting issues to discuss.
    Leave it with you, moderator !

  6. Intriguing comment by John Davis… Have now heard that from two sources and a third just now said that when he did a job for them he announced he had worked for Los Merinos.. Very concerning indeed… Although perhaps he wants to make amends for the rampant destruction he helped to wreak, as you put it John… Can anyone help? If not, Guess well have to get it from the horses mouth if not… Unfounded rumors are a horrible thing..
    Currently seems cheap chinese freight is taking precedence over hundreds, if not thousands, of livelihoods…good quality sustainable businesses and jobs in over a dozen hotels.
    Knock on effect for Ronda and nearby arriate will be huge!
    Jon

  7. I have asked for more information. In early 2005 the new owners of the Los Merinos fincas, Club Nautico Marina Canal de La Fontana sl, working out of the Malaga offices of Estevez Morant wrote to the Rnda ayuntamiento to inform them that Estevez Morant were the lead lawyers and technical team for the project and they were the ones who pushed through the famous plan parcial – all this coinciding exactly with Toti’s coming to power. They also lead on the campaign to hassle and pursue all those who publicly opposed the Merinos project – all of which has been reported by Olive press and others in the past. All the documentation which demonstrates their key and lead role in Los Merinos is in the files in the Ronda juzgado (presumably forming part now of the operation Acinipo case).

    For appearances sake if nothing else, is it appropriate that these lawyers should now be hawking their wares around Llano de la Cruz and literally passing the hat around to collect the cash, maybe even from the very people who went on all those demos trying to stop Los Merinos.

  8. Residents are setting up a “platform” for discussion eh? Very good! No doubt they’ll be very choo choo choosy about where they hold their meetings?
    Liking the new railway schemes by the way … can’t be a bad thing for Ronda.

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