GREENPEACE has slammed the ‘dark forces’ that it claims are behind the inexplicable decision to legalise the El Algarrobico hotel.
The environmental group and the Junta have now appealed the decision of the Andalucian high court (TSJA) to overturn a ruling that the 20-storey monstrosity was built illegally on a protected virgin beach in Almeria.
They fear it will now open the door to a golf course, 1,500 homes and EIGHT more hotels in the area.
Another green group Salvar Mojacar have put in an official complaint against the trio of judges behind the decision – Rafael Cantero, Jorge Munoz Cortes and Maria del Mar Jimenez Morera – claiming corruption.
Others have questioned why their ruling, due on February 25, was suddenly delayed by a month at the last minute.
Claims of corruption have been joined by cries of anger from expats Len and Helen Prior whose nearby home was demolished – without compensation – six years ago.
Len Prior told the Olive Press this week: “It is a disgrace. How can they get away with this?”
Their home in Vera was demolished in January 2008 with the wave of a pen due to ‘planning irregularities’.
“We were 100% legal and everyone else’s house is still standing,” added Prior. “We are still fighting for compensation and still in the same place that we were six years ago.
“This news makes us sick to the stomach. It’s real hypocrisy.”
The Olive Press can reveal that the company behind the development, Azata del Sol, is already linked in two other corruption cases, the Astapa scandal in Estepona – where it planned to build the largest commercial centre in Spain – and even the infamous Gurtel case, which links the government in Madrid to illegal cash payments.
The company built the La Alcazaba urbanisation of 219 luxury homes in Boadilla del Monte, which was described as causing the ‘Marbellisation’ of the area. The mayor of Boadilla, Arturo Gonzalez Panero, was later indicted in the Gurtel case.
The ruling also contradicts the TSJA’s OWN ruling in 2012, when the court decreed that the land, located in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park was NOT suitable for building and should be given ‘special protection’.
It also came after the Junta and the national government had recently publicly agreed to share the cost of its demolition. The Junta has even already set aside €7 million for it.
This weekend, Junta President Susana Diaz said that she would use ‘all possible means’ to halt further work, which leaves the Junta in the surreal situation of battling its own High Court.
Construction on the hotel had originally been halted in 2006 when the building, which is less than 15 metres from the sea, was deemed to be in flagrant breach of the ley de Costas.
Despite environmental groups protesting against it, builders worked around the clock to construct the 411-room hotel.
They continued even when Greenpeace activisits dubbed the word ‘illegal’ on the front of the hotel in giant letters.
Now the environmentalists are concerned that if work on the project is allowed to continue it will also pave the way for the developers to start work on an urbanisation of 1,500 homes, eight further luxury hotels and a golf course, which had initially been planned alongside the Algarrobico.
This is despite all of them being supposedly protected by the natural park boundary.
Curiously when the Olive Press visited the site a day before the ruling was due in February, a group of builders were doing some sort of work there.
Jaime del Val, president of Salvar Mojacar, described the ruling as ‘extremely worrying’ and set a ‘very dangerous’ precedent.
He continued: “It is a ‘setback against the people and against the fight against speculation and corruption.”
A spokesman for Greenpeace added that it was ‘not normal procedure for the same court that condemned the hotel as illegal to now ignore that ruling’.
If completed, he added, the environmental group ‘has lost eight years of struggle’.
Salvador Hernandez, mayor of Carboneras, however welcomed the TSJA’s decision, saying that it coincided with ‘the best interests of our town’.