15 Jul, 2022 @ 16:18
2 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: Battle lines are being drawn as massive mega-project could see 600 football pitches of homes and hotels ‘swamp’ Tarifa’s famous virgin beaches – some of the last in Spain

Virgin beach Tarifa
Image: Jon Clarke

GREEN campaigners are digging in to save one of Andalucia’s last remaining coastal zones.

They are launching a national campaign to prevent a series of projects from ‘destroying’ the fragile ecology of the stunning Tarifa coastline.

Hundreds of expats are expected to join Ecologistas en Accion to fight the plans that mean around 6.2 million square metres – or 600 football pitches – of protected land are being made available to developers.

In plans that have been on the drawing board since 2004, Tarifa town hall is hoping to develop six specific areas, increasing its urban footprint by 450%.

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Green campaigners are digging in to save one of Andalucia’s last remaining coastal zones. Image Ecologistas en acción

“This is the blatant destruction of one of the loveliest bits of coastline in Europe,” Javier Gil, of Ecologistas, told the Olive Press.

“Everyone needs to get involved to condemn this invasive and speculative form of tourism that will make the Tarifa area like the Costa del Sol.”

The projects at Valdevaqueros, Las Piñas, Torre de La Peña, Los Lances, Pedro Valiente and Cabo Plata (in nearby Atlanterra) total thousands of new homes and dozens of hotels.

Apart from an obvious strain on scarce water resources, there will be countless issues of sewage, as well as infrastructure.

“It’s absurd to be developing such a large unspoiled area,” said British businessman Peter Whaley, from the Hurricane Hotel group.

“We should be trying our best to protect this jewel of the coast, not build all over it.”

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Houses plans in Tarifa. Image Ecologistas en acción.

He added: “I understand there are some large banks behind it, but in Spain everything is in danger. Development here is big business, like cars are in Germany.”

In the most recent scheme to be announced the town hall is backing plans to build 730 homes and a number of hotels (comprising 1,360 bedrooms) in a 623,000 square metre area right opposite Los Lances beach.

The mostly wooded area – inside the protected Paraje Natural de Los Lances – currently has almost no buildings, apart from the La Codorniz hotel and restaurant.

Developers hope however, to overcome the area’s current protection status and their plans have now been sent to Cadiz for an Environmental Impact Report (EAE).

But alarmingly, this is far from all. Another project above Valdevaqueros stunning beach will add to the constant pressure on the area.

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Building plans for Tarifa. Image Ecologistas en acción.

The scheme, which the Olive Press understands comprises around 60 luxury villas, costing millions of euros each, is already on the drawing board.

Another nearby at Las Pinas, will see 50 luxury villas constructed.

The Olive Press first reported plans to develop the area in 2012, when a series of protests were organised by the pressure group Salvemos Valdevaqueros.

The body argued that the area was totally unsuitable for development (back then for around 360 homes and various hotels) as it bordered the Parque Natural del Estrecho and sat in the EU’s Red Natura 2000 zone.

This week, Tarifa mayor Francisco Ruiz refused to confirm how advanced plans were for any of the schemes.

When pressed on the Lances development, he told the Olive Press: “The project was approved in 2006, but due to the economic crisis building did not begin.”

While admitting that environmental laws are much stricter today, he is supporting the project for economic reasons ‘as long as the developers respect the environment.”

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Tarifa’s mayor. Image from Ayuntamiento de Tarifa.

It is a big ask though, as Ecologistas spokesman Javier Gil insists.

“There are only three areas of Andalucia left without mass urban development; Cabo de Gata in Almeria, Donana National Park and around Tarifa.

“That is why most of the tourists come to Tarifa. They come here to see virgin beaches, not concrete.

“The mayor is going to destroy Tarifa and turn it into a resort like many others on the Costa del Sol.

“There is not enough land there to build more houses and developers are naturally interested in virgin areas as they know they will be able to sell the properties quickly and expensively.”


Antonio Tuna 2022 Copy
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