PROTESTORS gathered outside the town hall of Nerja ahead of yesterday afternoon’s council meeting to discuss the future of the Maro coastline.
Over 200 residents of Nerja and Maro attended the vocal protest in an effort to make their voices heard over the potential destruction of 45 hectares of protected land to make way for a luxury hotel, golf course and urbanisation.
The protest was scheduled to take place as that afternoon, Nerja mayor Jose Alberto Armijo, Maro mayor Encarnacion Moreno and a number of councillors sat down with business unions to discuss the proposal submitted by Larios SL to reclassify the land.
Local farmers currently working the land set up stall to display the vast array of fruit and vegetables that originates from the Maro allotments, a micro economy that currently calls the coastal stretch their home.
The protest was attended by a number of political representatives from parties opposing the project, as well as president of GENA- Ecologists in Action, Rafael Yus.
“We cannot let this project continue,” said Yus in front of the gathered crowd.
“The project has been born from lies and will destroy an untouched and beautiful stretch of the land surrounding Maro.”
News emerged soon after the hearing once the protestors dispersed that the agreement between the local government and Larios SL had been approved, a major stepping stone in favour of the project going ahead.
The agreement was voted in favour by the newly formed PP and Cs government with the help of newly elected Vox representative, Jeffrey Lee Taylor.
Nerja mayor Armijo explained that although an agreement has been voted in favour for, the council has not agreed upon the reclassification of the land for the golf course or any other development.
“The meeting today only agreed that we would commit to process any proposal that Larios SL submits, and that any proposal will have to undergo all the relevant processing and permissions involved with this kind of project.” said Armijo.
“This type of process will also need to include all administrations to ensure it is a fair and legitimate decision.”
The vote in favour of an agreement overruled the opposing parties PSOE, Adelante Nerja-Maro and UPNer.
“The entire project does not abide by European regulations, and we doubt the ligitamacy of the agreement,” PSOE spokeswoman and ex-mayor Rosa Arrabal told the Olive Press.
“After today’s news we are going to try to stop the final approval of the plan, they have a majority but we are going to try to ask again for it to be tabled to demand that the legal requirements are met.”
“I’m hopeful. If we all unite, there are holes in the agreement that they are trying to pass, and these things have to be addressed.” said Arrabal.
“We must search for a more sustainable solution,” said Andres Jimenez, spokesman for the UPNer party.
“We only have to look at other golf projects along the coast to know that they are not a viable tourist model, despite the numbers that Larios SL promises.” said Jimenez.
The decision on the agreement between the two bodies also does nothing to quash the uncertainty from the tenants currently working on the land.
“We were hoping for a decision in our favour today that would help give the residents of Maro some security in knowing that their prized land would be safe,” said Davide, a Dutch man who has rented a plot on the Maro hillside for six years.
What is clear after todays decision is that the battle will now continue to help save the coastline of Maro and the livelihoods of all the farmers that currently work the land.
“The decision today is disappointing, but the fight goes on,” said Jon Stein, local activist and resident of Maro.