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Destruction of a paradise for the many just for the greed of a few

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Offline David

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« on: July 31, 2008, 16:21 PM »
Last week the 2500 inhabitants of the Sierra de las  Nieves village of  Casarabonela woke up to the shocking and disturbing news - a quarrying company was asking for permission to open the old disused  “Los Jarales” quarry again,  on the foothills of the beautiful  mountain of Alcaparain located  nearby the village. They were informed that an unknown company had purchased 54 hectares of the area below the mountain from a previous English enterprise and are now demanding it to be reopened.

An extraordinary meeting of the Town Council sat on Tuesday 22 July 2008. The 3 Party Popular members of the council boycotted this and did not attend; the reason indicated was that sufficient notice was not given to enable them to have access to any new information prior to the meeting regarding the quarry.  It is normal in these circumstances to make all information available two days prior to the meeting.  It was then left to the two new AGIC Independent Party members (who are proving to be firmly against the quarry and reckless development of this area) to question the Mayor plus the Lawyer he had brought with him to the meeting.   

Back in 2004 the villagers including foreigners banded together as one, led by the “Platform against the Quarry” and successfully stopped the then owners from being issued any licence to reopen the quarry.  A referendum was taken to get an accurate reading of the thoughts of the village people, 700 people voted and rejected the quarry reopening by over 92%.

Even before the referendum, the Mayor gave his pledge that the Quarry would not re-open whilst he was Mayor, if the village decided to vote against it. He also stated he would seek other uses for this very special area.  He, again, publically reiterated this at last year’s local elections when he was returned to office. The Mayor now says that although he gave this pledge, he cannot be held to it.

The Mayor has stated he does not want the quarry to re-open but the quarry company has given him until the end of September to issue the licences to facilitate the re-opening. If he fails to do this, he says the Town Hall may suffer financial sanctions. He has on his own admission no ideas for the future of the site. The Platform against the quarry fear he will sign the licence without any further investigations or consultation with the people.

The Platform against the quarry, state that in 2004 they were in exactly the same situation with the same players and opponents on the same arguments for and against the quarry.  This time however the Mayor wants us to believe that he is being forced to sign the licence. If he does not want to he cannot be forced to do so, and without his signature the quarry cannot open. The new owners must have been aware of the village and the Mayors position against the quarry before purchasing the land. He has had sufficient time since 2004 to take out indemnity insurance against possible litigation, as no doubt he should have done before making his original pledge to the village. If these demands were made, they would be preferable to the devastation this Quarry will bring to the whole area.

The village of Casarabonela is within the UNESCO Reserve of the Biosphere, and the Sierra de las Nieves. These organisations names and logos are used within the Town Hall publicity to encourage inland tourism to the area depicting areas of outstanding natural beauty, clean air, wildlife, peace and tranquillity.
 
In the past eight years, there have been two large Hotels Rurals opened and one is still under construction, as well as many other tourist-orientated projects including the much-awaited Cactus collection partly funded by the Town Hall. This quarry is out of place and against what the area has to offer the more environmentally aware inland tourists now coming to this area in preference to the already destroyed coastal strips and immediate inland areas.

If the Town Halls and Junta now allow destruction of these further deeper inland areas, tourism is finished in the whole of this region of Andalusia. This is the last stand; it is time someone in the Junta woke up to this short-term gain culture that is ruining Spain’s once thriving tourism industry.           

The final twist of the knife came when the meeting was informed that a road known locally as the “La Cola” was to be the preferred route of the quarry company to remove material and service the quarry.  This road is part of a protected ancient route used for centuries to drive cattle to market from Ronda to Malaga .By current law it cannot be tampered with, asphalted or concreted. The news that this could happen was greeted with incredulity that anyone could have the authority to give this permission so easily and without consultation. Even more bizarrely, an extremely large private residential home is currently nearing completion within 100 metres of this road, how can these two projects be compatible

The other transport option would mean the lorries driving up and  down a steep mountain road in places just wide enough for two cars to pass and then through the lower part of the village.  The transport problem alone emphasises the very inappropriate nature of the area for a quarry site near the village and in these high mountains.   

This is an area is of outstanding natural beauty and nature.  It is the finest and most mature area of Pine Forest near the village. It is an area where Bonelli’s and Booted Eagles as well as many different Hawks including the Goshawk and Kestrels are regularly seen hunting here . The Eagle Owls strange booming call is heard in the night. The annual spring migration of swallows and swifts fly directly over the lower edge of this mountain with thousands battling their way north from the Spanish coast to Europe in the early mornings each year through April.

The original quarry was operational for 18 months in 1992/93 then closed. Since then this area has changed with the full cooperation of the Town Hall and Junta allowing habitation of the surrounding area. Below the quarry site, there are now many houses that will be engulfed in the dust from the arid material they will be quarrying. The dust will also be carried on the North and Easterly winds, which blow through this area with ferocity towards and into the village.
 
The subjects of fire, ground water pollution that could affect the 3 very successful water-bottling plants and the homes in the vicinity are been ignored. Water usage and deforestation of 54 hectares of land are just some of the many questions that need answers before this licence is even considered. An Environmental Impact Assessment must be carried out in a clear and transparent manner before the Mayors pen is even allowed to touch the paper. Let us hope that he will reconsider and see that for the short-term gain now, it will be the village’s loss for many years, as everyone will have to suffer the long-term effects of this appalling situation.

We need your support, leave your thoughts and messages on foro cuidad Casarabonela.
www.foro-ciudad.com/malaga/casarabonela/

We would particularly welcome personal experiences from anyone currently trapped or suffering in the same type of quarry situation that we are now fighting. Email us at noalacantera@hotmail.com


                                                                        NO A LA CANTERA!
                     
                                                             PLATFORM AGAINST THE QUARRY

« Last Edit: July 31, 2008, 17:37 PM by Clive »

Offline Clive

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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2008, 17:45 PM »
Hi David,

A very well written explanation about the situation you are facing and I am sure you will get support from people here at the forum... I'm off to see your opposition website now....

Quite frankly I can't see how your mayor can be forced into signing anything unless the company in question has some leverage that you don't know about....

Clive

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Offline Sue

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« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2008, 23:34 PM »
It is a devastating thought that 15 years of nature reclamation from the original quarry could be destroyed in a matter of days.
Thanks for spreading the word,

we wish you and your neighbours strength for the battle!
regards,
Sue
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Offline elmussol

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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2008, 00:05 AM »
What an appalling state of affairs! Just me, but I wouldn't be putting faith an elected alcalde to do the right thing. Big money talks louder.

Battle is exactly the right word Sue because it will be. When in Sheffield I was involved in the Indymedia collective there. Check out the features and the newswire for lots of similar stuff happening in the Peak Park especially. I am very wary of crossing the conventions of this forum, so suffice it to say, read the Sheffield Indymedia site and you might guess where my thoughts on tactics might lie.

Best of luck to you all David.

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Offline David

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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2008, 06:32 AM »
Clive Thanks for your prompt support.When you see the Horror TV shows you never think it would happen to you. Yes understand  your thought on the companys leverage.I have some pictures of the area which i hope to put on the site ,thanks once again. 
« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 08:39 AM by Clive »

Offline David

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« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2008, 06:38 AM »
Thanks Sue .Yes it is a battle and a very lonely one. We start after the Ferria .When i see the lengths some people in the past have gone to in the battle against Quarries it gives you the strength and purpoes to fight again in 2004 we thought it was all over .will keep informed. 

Hi Elmussol
I agree one of the things i have found since i started this again last week is that Spain has lots of websites regarding the environment etc there is nothing behind the organisations The Unesco site in Spain have not even replied to 4 e mails sent to 2 people at the top .What are these organisations doing.To let this mountain be carried away to make another million monstrosities is an affront to nature. Thanks for your support will look at the site
« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 08:41 AM by Clive »

Offline lucy

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« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2008, 07:27 AM »
Hi David,

the title of your post sums up the situation really well - not only in your village.  Good luck, and keep us informed.

Offline David

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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2008, 07:35 AM »
Hi Lucy Thanks for that.  I agree sums up the whole of spain at the moment it  s a wonderful place and it would be even better without these leaches they call  politicians. 
« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 08:43 AM by Clive »

Offline tonyninfas

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« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2008, 09:07 AM »
What is about Spain, and these companies that just want to keep on gobbling up great areas of countryside for quarries, gold courses, ski resorts etc ?
Good luck with your fight, and keep us regularly posted.

Offline Dave

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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2008, 12:23 PM »
Hi David
We have a house up in the old mining district of El Bierzo, the scars are still quite evident there, but as the years pass nature is gradually taking over, in fact the view from the garden is of green hills, as a couple of years ago they removed the above ground structures. The problem is, that just up the valley, they have open an open cast mine, which is a real blot on the landscape, it also causes a lot of dust. In many ways open cast tends to be far uglier visually, than the old drift and deep mines, although for the workers a far safer life.
I fear that your article, may be the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to reopening old mines, with the increase in fuel costs, it is becoming more are more profitable, to revisit old workings, and open cast is by far the cheapest way to extract the coal. I wish you luck with your battle.
regards
Dave

Offline Steve West

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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2008, 12:36 PM »
Hi David

You might find it worth your while explaining the situation to SEO-Birdlife. If the territory of a pair of Bonelli's Eagles is likely to be affected then I think there will have to be an Environmental Impact Assessment. Is it within an Important Bird Area or Special Protection Area (ZEPA)? Even if   that is not the case the presence of Bonelli's Eagles means that this could be a lead worth following up.

Steve
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2008, 12:53 PM »
Hi all,

David sent me some images of the area...

Steve is absolutely right that an impact study will have been obligatory and I don't see how the quarry can be re opened without one...

How many pairs of Bonellis eagles are in the area David?

Do you know Ian Shrives from IStravel? he should be able to tell you the stats of birds in the area.
http://www.is-travel.net/

Clive
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2008, 13:00 PM »
With regards to protection status of the whole area has UNESCO biosphere status.

http://www.unesco.org/mabdb/br/brdir/directory/biores.asp?mode=all&code=SPA+14

In the above link are the contact details for the local people in charge of the biosphere...
David? What are these people doing with regards to the opening of the quarry?

Description of Biosphere status in English at
http://www.unesco.org/mab/BRs.shtml

And you can search for other biospheres at
http://www.unesco.org/mabdb/br/brdir/directory/database.asp#country

Clive


« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 13:04 PM by Clive »
Explore the nature of Iberia at www.wildsideholidays.com

The beautiful town of Ronda, the City of Dreams?

The spectacular Caminito del Rey, El Chorro and Guadalhorce reservoirs El Camino del Rey

Offline David

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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2008, 20:42 PM »
Hi Clive Unesco Mab,  I have e mailed the Director in Malaga and the technical  guy who believe it or not lives in our village neither have replied to two e mails .I am giving them the benefit of the doubt at the moment and assuming they are both on holiday!!

Sara and Ian istavel  been very helpfull and supportive they do brilliant birdwatching trips and holidays ,and are realy into this area will get them  to come up with some stats for Bonellis and Booted

Hi Steve completely agree before they can start the Environmental impact assessment will have to be done,my worry is by whom?
SEO ZEPA birdlife any links contacts ?
Hi Dave yes this will be open cast  on the downward slope of the mountain so where does the dust go?.I have been to Gib today and passed four quarried the dust is 2 Km away on the trees   


Edited out unnecessary quoting... David you don't need to quote every previous post....
« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 21:49 PM by Clive »

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2008, 23:40 PM »
Greetings David,
Sorry to read of your troubles - good luck with your efforts.
Whether or not it's a ZEPA, it still needs an environmental impact study, but I'm afraid they'll push on without one.
Have you contacted SEO-Birdlife? Sorry to be so negative on this, but I really think you skip the formalities and should go over the heads of the local Unesco representatives and send off emails to Unesco headquarters demanding to know what measures are being taken at local level.
Regs.,
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline David

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« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2008, 10:55 AM »
Hi Technopat 

Yes i fear you are right I have had no responce from local UNESCO . The impact assessment is i agree essential and required by Law and i do not believe they would start without one (optimistic perhaps) We would prefer the Mayor does not sign the licence at all  ,but we would prefer he didn't sign without having the assessment done first , as to me that seems logical dont you think? SEO Birdlife is on my list for today,and will be done.I have a friend in UK who also says i should highlight the Ibex that is on the mountain whilst not yet endangered it is of interest and also the Ibex is the logo of the Sierra de las Nieves  park . The campaigne has been slowed this weekend as it was the village Ferria and we decided that it would be inappropriate to disrupt or spoil t in any way and would eventually  be counter productive to our cause we need every person in our camp Thanks for your continued support  interest . I was amazed at the amount of people who read the article As i get more info i will post it.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2008, 12:29 PM by Clive »

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2008, 13:47 PM »
Greetings David and All,
I'm afraid that I have to insist that there are numerous cases of works being commenced without the prescriptive estudio de impacto ambiental (EIA). Likewise works being commenced when the EIA clearly states that the impact can cause irrepairable damage. The EU is too far away - politically, time-wise and distance-wise, to do any good until way after the damage has been done.

It's just occured to me that between you, the neighbours could pay for a notario to come down and levantar acta that there is no such study. It'll certainly put the fear-of-whoever into the alcalde 'cos if he then goes ahead and signs the licence he can be done - and will be done - for prevaricación (knowingly signing a public document that is illegally drawn up - or words to that effect).

Good luck once again,
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline David

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« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2008, 15:47 PM »

Technopat Thanks for the Notario idea,will speak with Spanish contingent . I have today done SEO Birdlife, UNESCO Paris as no result from MAB Malaga or Casarabonela, The Tourist Board and a few personal messages  to people who may be interested. Any further ideas welcome.   
« Last Edit: August 04, 2008, 22:19 PM by Clive »

Offline David

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« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2008, 23:03 PM »
Well some good news from this awful mess.Tonight we had a meeting of the platform and we gained two new members the head of the Party Popular and one of the council members .They are joining on a non political basis to help the fight against the opening of the Quarry.It is nice to see in this day and age that  someone can put aside their political ideals for this issue.
Also we have found out that part of the Quarry site lies within LIC we believe that this area cannot be touched, if anyone who has any more info on this please comment.

A date has been set for our first reunion which is Saturday 30 August at 8 PM.  We hope to have various speakers to inform the village of the problems of having the quarry so close to the village .So folks the best i have felt for at least a week.Lets hope we can continue on this positive note.       
« Last Edit: August 07, 2008, 23:13 PM by Clive »

Offline tiggy

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« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2008, 00:16 AM »
Hello David,

Found site and have read all comments.  We are going to be in touch with our lawyer this week to see if we can find out which searches etc were done . As you know
we bought a house not very far from the quarry . Infact I would say a stones throw away , and I'm not kidding . We bought under the assumption that the
quarry would not open !!!

WE also own a piece of land which looks down on the quarry , again we need to find out from our lawyer how we stand!!

When we get any info I will be in touch ,   



Helen