Monday, October 09, 2006

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

After a week when the regional director of urban development for Madrid has been forced to resign for, how shall I put it, confusing his private interest with his public responsibilities – last Friday’s El País brought confirmation that the Spanish construction frenzy is now putting a protected species in danger. The supreme court of Castilla and León has stepped in to paralyze a project in the locality of Las Navas, in the province of Avila. The proposed project involves the construction of 1600 homes and no fewer than four associated golf courses. The court has blocked the project because this is the nesting area of the endangered black stork, of which it is estimated that there only remain 322 pairs in the whole of Spain. The local mayor, astounded by the decision to halt the project, has declared that “golf is good for the countryside”. It appears today that work on cutting down the pine forest in the area is proceeding despite the court decision, with the full approval of the regional government; the ridiculous excuse being that the company has not yet been officially notified of the judicial decision.

The fashion for constructing urbanizations with golf courses attached is completely crazy in a country which is in the second year of a fairly serious drought, that many of these developments are being carried out in the regions with least water only emphasises the craziness of it all. In this part of Avila water may not be such a desperate problem because of the proximity of the proposed development to the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama, but this very proximity demonstrates that even the most unspoiled natural landscapes are currently under intense pressure from the construction industry. I have been intending for some time to write a post on the massive corruption scandal emerging in Marbella, but it is quite possible that there are hundreds of smaller Marbella’s happening around the country, driven by the huge amount of money generated from this construction boom.

UPDATE October 10: In between the original court ruling and an instruction yesterday to stop work it seems that the construction company involved managed to bring in a machine capable of uprooting 1000 trees a day. They got to 3000 by the time they were stopped, and have been supported in their efforts to create facts on the ground by the local council and the regional government. Now what was that about the rule of law?

1 comment:

El Casareño Ingles said...

Good on yer!

At least Marbella was not extinguishing the habitats of endangered species.

Though having said that, hopefully the endangered species now is the town hall official that takes bribes for planning permissions!