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Estate owners sue Greenpeace for prediction

Published on June 11, 2008

11 June 2008

MADRID – A group of real estate developers and property owners in La Manga del Mar Menor – a spit of sandy, low-lying coastal land and Murcia’s premier beach resort – are threatening to take Greenpeace to court over its graphic predictions of what global warming may do to the area, which they say have caused house prices to plummet.

The lawsuit, which the plaintiffs plan to present unless Greenpeace agrees to an out of court settlement of almost EUR 30 million in damages, comes more than six months after La Manga featured prominently in a photo book published by the environmental organisation that was intended to shock Spain into action on climate change.

Along with photos of a dried up Ebro River in Zaragoza and a desert in an area of Valencia now filled with lemon and orange groves, the book, Photoclima, shows digitally modified photos of La Manga submerged in water with only the tops of hotels, apartment blocks and palm trees emerging from the blue Mediterranean.

Greenpeace says the book is a graphic portrayal of the conclusions of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has predicted that global warming will cause sea levels to rise around the world over the coming decades.

"We want to create alarm and a call to action," Juan López de Uralde, Greenpeace’s director in Spain, said when the book was published.

The photographs certainly caused alarm in La Manga. According to José Ángel Abad, a lawyer who has taken up the case of the area’s aggrieved developers and home owners, prices have plunged by "50 percent" in recent months – a dramatic fall even in light of the end of a nationwide house price boom.

Manipulation
"Greenpeace manipulated the expected rise in sea levels of half a metre to cause alarm. It has sunk the real estate market: no one is buying and everyone has put their apartments up for sale," Abad claims.

He says his clients are seeking EUR 27 million in damages to cover the decrease in the value of their properties.

However, Greenpeace has no intention of settling out of court, arguing that the La Manga property owners are trying to "blackmail" it into footing the bill for their speculation in the real estate market.

"They’re trying to blame Greenpeace and its campaign for the problems they have encountered in a market saturated thanks to real estate speculation," Uralde said this week. "We are not going to be intimidated."

[El Pais / Ángeles Espinosa / Flickr contributor Capitan Giona / Expatica]

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