1 Mar, 2015 @ 14:00
1 min read

EXCLUSIVE: Expats come under fire from ecologists over ‘illegal housing’

SOHA house

SOHA houseA ROW is brewing between ecologists and expats over illegal housing across Andalucia.

The expats’ association Save Our Home Axarquia (SOHA) has come under attack from a representative of Ecologistas en Accion.

Rafael Yus Ramos, the author of an article which appeared in El Observador, insisted that expats are ‘colonising the rural land and urbanising non-urbanisable land at great economic, social and ecological cost’.

He added that the president of SOHA, Philip Smalley, has threatened the Spanish authorities that if the laws aren’t changed, then they will deliberately ‘catapult’ the municipalities concerned into poverty by returning to their home countries.

“Those within this type of association, of which there are several, assert their right to colonise the rural landscape,” he said.

But local British journalist Lenox Napier insisted: “In all, it’s just policy-mongering from the IU/Los Verdes, who are happy to go after the foreign homeowners (who supply hard-needed wealth and jobs locally), but are completely at ease with other, larger ecological issues in southern Spain.”

According to Ramos, the arrival of some 760,000 British immigrants since 1995 has caused ‘a false climate of prosperity in the municipalities concerned’.

He continues: “They are a small bourgeoisie that has colonised the landscape of the rustic land of numerous Spanish Mediterranean provinces, especially Malaga, Almeria, Alicante and Valencia.”

When contacted by the Olive Press, SOHA refused to make a comment, saying they would not dignify the article with a response.

Imogen Calderwood

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  1. A Spaniard using the word ‘colonise’ – now if these foreigners had copied the Spanish ‘actions’ in Central and South America they would have set about exterminating the indigenous people. AFAIK they have brought much needed money to villages and areas which had lost most of the local population to emigration.

    Why are the Spanish so afflicted by denial syndrome – who sold the land and who rubber stamped all the transactions. Who sold all the materials and who cowboy built all the houses – Rafael – it was you Spanish tonto.

  2. My goodness, how much rubbish can Mr Ramos come out with? No one is asserting their right to colonise the landscape; SOHA members have, in 99% of cases, purchased existing properties, built and sold by Spaniards, for which they used Spanish lawyers and notaries, who didn’t do their jobs properly and/or were provided with false paperwork. How can such idiocy from the likes of Mr Ramos exist in the modern world? No wonder the country is going backwards.

  3. This individual is a nasty piece of work and also very racist. It begs the question, where was he and all his cronies 15 years ago when all these so called illegal properties were being built? Why were they not out waving their little banners then? Why did they not take the opportunity to erect signs in the Andalucian countryside warning foreigners not to buy land and build houses there? How interesting that these so called environmentalists waited until the rural property bubble had burst before squealing. They knew that vast amounts of money were being pumped into the region by foreign investors buying these properties but they just sat back, did nothing and then pounced when they thought the time was right.

    Yus’ views are dysfunctional, hypocritical and extremist and he needs to be rigorously challenged at every opportunity. Apparently he is in a minority amongst other environmentalists but radicals like this can gather support at an alarming rate. I read some of his envy ridden rhetoric before when he was suggesting that everyone should live in “compact cities” and not individual houses. This has the potential to become very dangerous indeed.

  4. Andalucía is an anal place when it comes to paperwork. Every person has an ID. His details are known down to his shoe-size. Every goat, sheep, horse, donkey, dog, cat and – for some reason – ferret is micro-chipped and registered in some computer at the OCA: the Min of Ag. Every car, whether it exists or not, exists in the Trafico computer. Every budget is produced down to the last céntimo and every population count or number of tourists, and their spend and their time here down to the last detail. Wonderful stuff really. It makes us all feel safe (and provides jobs for many thousands of bean counters). However, and here’s what they are asking us to believe: 300,000 homes were built and nobody knew until the cheques had all cleared?

  5. Yet another Spaniard who believes all Spains ills are created by foreigners and if they would all just leave things would be so much better. Be careful what you wish for Senor Ramos you just might get it. Thankfully though you are in a minority and the vast majority of Spanish people I meet are friendly and quite happy to see us spend our money here. I spent last Christmas eve dining with my Spanish neighbours and their family and spend many a summer evening just hanging out with them, I have yet to be accused of trying to colonise the village.

  6. Mr. Ramos would do well to remember that the vast majority of ‘colonised’ property was put up for sale by unscrupulous SPANISH developers, working in conjunction with as many unscrupulous lawyers and estate agents, not to mention corrupt local officials.
    While it is true that over-development of the coast is an environmental disaster, the original owners of the land were Spanish and all too happy to sell to the aforesaid developers. Spanish laws against it existed throughout the many years this catastrophe was taking place, but the greed of those pocketing illegal monies blinded them all, from lawyers to judges to environmentalists, to the reality.

    • You are right to say that over development of the coast has been a disaster but it is worth noting that this bloke and his environmentalist cronies ignore all the hideous tower blocks in places like Torremolinos and Fuengirola and focus their hatred on attractive rural properties (like the Priors’ house for example) which, incidentally, are mostly owned by foreigners. Frankly, I can’t see much wrong with this type of development, within reason, but they are a bunch of spineless hypocrites who are exercising the politics of envy and making themselves look very foolish in the process.

  7. This bloke’s right – although the only economic cost has been to the “foreigners” who have invested their hard earned money in this country.

    His comments, if made in the UK or France would immediately have him hauled over the coals for racism.

    Lenox, I’d agree with everything you’ve said, except that when it comes to microchipping, the Spanish do not (by and large) adhere to this law or any other when it comes to their animals, which are regarded by most Andalucians as tools/machinery, rather than sentient beings.

    Consequently when they chuck one of their dogs out on the hard shoulder of the autovia, it’s impossible to collar them for cruelty etc.

    All of these wonderful laws Andalucia has when it comes to animal welfare – yet I see Guardia drive past houses where the dog is chained up with no shelter/water etc.

  8. Wrong link. Try this: “http://www.revistaelobservador.com/images/stories/envios_15/mayo/yus_inmigrantes.pdf” ‘Climate Immigrants (that’s us) Indignant at being Accused of Despoiling the Countryside’. Rus in this article ‘puts the record straight’ and quotes a critical article from The Olive Press with his own take on things.

  9. Thanks Lenox. I get a mention in that document, page 5 so I’ll respond to Mr Ramos again.

    Mr Ramos, please address the issue that has been raised before. If there are houses in the countryside, who allowed them to be built? Who took the taxes, who sold the land, who did the legal work? Where were the Junta in all of this? The fact is that you cannot blame the purchaser of a property for “environmental crimes” when their property was sold to them as a legal entity. It may be true that there are lots of illegal homes in the countryside, but you are blaming the wrong people. Your country is mired in corruption on this very issue, and that tells you everything about where the blame lays.

    Your reply to me is this:

    “They are entitled to live in the country (what I call colonize the landscape) because they have done a purchase under the conditions specified in the transaction. And I say no, you are not
    entitled to purchase and colonize the landscape, nor those who have sold them right to use the landscape as a commercial product.”

    Mr Ramos, a person who purchases a property using the legal framework of your country is not “colonizing” an area; they are exercising their right to live and reside in a union of countries and are purchasing properties with what they were told had all the proper deeds and occupation licenses. Lawyers acted for them, notaries signed off the purchases, banks gave loans etc. If all that can occur, how can you blame the buyer?!

    Spain has laws to stop illegal developments in the countryside. If your country cannot enforce or control or document such construction then whose fault is that? Fact is, the systems for enforcement were non-existent for many decades, and landowners, mayors and councillors all colluded in a grand scheme. Mayors wanted to transform their poor areas, and they often acted illegally to achieve it. Many are still appearing in court for these crimes now, in May 2015. Buyers came to your country in good faith, they used your legal systems and they ended up purchasing properties that were found to be retrospectively illegal.

    If you want your countryside pristine and with low levels of development, your country should not allowed the development to begin with. Once this chain is started it is very hard to stop it, but that is not the buyers fault. They come with good intentions. Spain let them down. If you persist in ignoring the truth behind this issue, you take your country further backwards. Stop worrying about “climate immigrants” as your own countrymen are equally affected. They have been evicted, they have had their houses demolished, they have been thrown in the street irrespective of them being elderly or having young children. Why don’t you write about that, Mr Ramos?

  10. So are the tens of thousands of Madrilenos that come to stay in Andalucia in August in their holiday homes near the beaches also “climate immigrants”? The trouble with idiots like this man is that he is believed by many a Spaniard just the same as they believe that Gibraltar is in some way both Sodom and Gomorrah!

  11. Well said Fred but I fear it will fall on deaf ears. This geezer seems to be Spain’s answer to Nutterly Bennett although he has become so radical he almost makes her appear sane. Why does he get so much air time? People of Spain wake up, don’t allow this nasty bully to assume moral superiority while knowing full well that if any political party was mad enough to adopt any of his destructive policies, Spain would be reduced to rubble. Can you imagine what a hell hole Spain would become if someone like him had any real power?

    I have a message of my own to give him and the second word is “off”.

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