Spain faces legal action over land-grab law
8 June 2005, VALENCIA — For the second time in the past 12 months, the European Union has sent a commission of European Parliament representatives to Valencia to investigate 15,000 complaints concerning the so-called 'land-grab law'.
8 June 2005
VALENCIA — For the second time in the past 12 months, the European Union has sent a commission of European Parliament representatives to Valencia to investigate 15,000 complaints concerning the so-called 'land-grab law'.
Expats and Spaniards in the campaign group Abusos Urbanisticos No (No to Urban Abuses, AUN) have complained to the EU about a law which they claim has forced them to pay "elevated and apparently arbitrary sums" to developers.
The law allows developers to say to a council that an unused area of land could be transformed into an 'urban area'. Councils have been accused of being in league with developers as it means they will get income from an area with more local taxpayers.
Meanwhile, residents say they cannot pay, do not need these 'urban services' like street lights, and in some cases have been forced to sell-up.
The EU fact-finding mission of MEPs said Spain could be prosecuted for human rights abuses if the central government does not respond to concerns raised earlier by the EU over the controversial Urban Activity Regulatory Law (LRAU).
MEP commission head Michael Cashman said the EU petitions committee had received 15,000 complaints about the application of the Valencia land laws and it was quite possible they could lead to formal charges being laid against Spain.
They could be prosecuted at the European Court of Human Rights for violating the right to property.
Cashman added that a solution to the problem could be found, but only if the authorities take action and respond to the commission’s concerns.
Campaigners claim the Valencia government has ignored all of the recommendations made to them following the mission’s first visit last year.
On their second visit, the MEPs visited Tibi where campaigners claim an LRAU-backed plan partial development scheme is threatening to disenfranchise residents who own rural property there.
Another line of investigation the EU mission will be exploring is the alleged abuses carried out as part of the urbanising plans for the Armanello district in Benidorm, in the Costa Blanca.
They are to examine the role played by three companies who plan to develop the area.
These companies allegedly demand 10 percent of the infrastructure costs from affected residents.
The Valencian regional government's housing and territories minister Rafael Blasco has said before the visit that the complaints against the LRAU were respectable but "voters have shown their support for the Valencia government’s policy on urban development".
The Spanish daily El Pais reported how town mayors hit back at the EU observers for being "badly informed".
The MEPs are due to report to the European Parliament in the autumn.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news