By Frances Leate
RESIDENTS and hoteliers in one of Andalucia’s most popular tourist valleys have been visited by the Three Kings two weeks early.
In a perfect early Christmas present, a freight line scheme that would have ripped through the heart of Llano de la Cruz valley, in Ronda, has been derailed. The good news comes after the Olive Press joined forces with local mayors, hotel bosses and residents to campaign against the scheme.
The new line would have formed part of the so-called Mediterranean Corridor which is to run from Algeciras to Barcelona, via Antequera and Granada.
Under the €71.1 million scheme, 700m-long freight trains would have been rattling through the valley 24 hours a day, potentially causing the closure of dozens of hotels and `turismo rurales’.
Campaigners feared the line would devastate the natural beauty of the valley, which brings in more than five million euros a year to the local economy.
It would have also led to the loss of hundreds of jobs. Celebrations are now under way after the government decided to ditch the controversial plans amid concerns it would have a negative environmental impact on the area.
Ronda’s mayor Mari Paz Fernandez said she was satisfied and described the news as ‘very positive’ for the valley.
Tina Piek, boss of Fuente de la Higuera hotel, where celebrities such as Adrian Brody and UK prime minister David Cameron have stayed, added: “We must salute our lawyers for all their help”.
Paul Whitelock, a resident of Ronda whose home would have been just metres from the new track, was also delighted with the news.
“The line would have been right on my land and very near to my house so of course I was very concerned about it.
“It is wonderful news they have decided to scrap the idea and I hope it has been scrapped for good.
“Ronda is a beautiful part of Spain and it would have been ruined by these plans.”