Hotel on last unspoilt beach to be knocked down

11th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

11 May 2006 , ALMERIA — A hotel on one of the last unspoilt stretches of the Spanish costas is to be compulsory purchased and demolished by the authorities.

11 May 2006

ALMERIA — A hotel on one of the last unspoilt stretches of the Spanish costas is to be compulsory purchased and demolished by the authorities. 

The decision to pull down the hotel at El Algarrobico beach, near the Cabo de Gata natural park in Almeria, southern Spain, has been hailed as a victory by environmentalists.

The Andalusian regional government said it would buy the half-complete complex for EUR 2.3 million then blow it up.

Manuel Chaves, the president of Andalusia, said: "They are never going to open it. It is going to disappear from the beach."

The move was a U-turn for Andalusia, prompted by growing public pressure to save the Spanish coastline and moves from Spain's Socialist Government to try to stop excessive building on the costas.

In 1994, the Andalusian government had classified the beach as 'urban', opening the way for developers to apply for permission to build the hotel.

The plan to build the 22-floor hotel, one of eight planned for the site, along with a golf course and 1,500 flats, was later approved by the local council.

Greenpeace activists occupied the building in protest last November in protest.

The Spanish Environment Ministry ordered the builders to knock down part of the hotel that was too close to the beach but said it could not overturn planning licences.

But amid mounting protests, Andalusian authorities discovered the hotel group had failed to comply with an obscure building regulation in 1999.

Azata del Sol had failed to inform the regional authority of its plans when it bought the prime beachside spot.

Chaves explained this gave the authorities to buy back part of the hotel and demolish it.

María José Contreras, of Greenpeace, said: "This is not just a victory for Greenpeace but for all those who believe that the coast should not be destroyed.

"It should stop builders from thinking, as they do, that they can operate with complete impunity."

But Antonio Baena Pérez, Azata general coordinator, said the company would claim compensation of EUR 200m.

Cristóbal Fernández, mayor of Carboneras which approved the plan, said: "We have the right not to live on an Indian reserve and the authorities must compensate us so we can live off tourism."

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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