Environmentalists oppose macro-urbanisation in Barbate

by Lorraine Williamson

CADIZ – The regional government of Andalucia wants to realise a large-scale project in Barbate (Cádiz). It will increase the built-up area of ​​this municipality three times in one go. Furthermore, the macro project will take up 4.67 square kilometres. 

That’s even more than the 4.4 square kilometres of built-up land in the provincial capital of Cádiz. However, the 467 hectares of land ear-marked, is still part of the surrounding nature reserve of the municipality. The plan is to build a golf course under the name Següesal Golf Resort.  And to realise 900 apartments, 400 hotel rooms and a further 300 homes. 

The project is a major challenge for a municipality that has a 30% unemployment rate. But it is also a thorn in the side of environmental activists. Mayor Miguel Molina had not counted on the resistance of these groups. However, he believes, nothing is illegal with the project. On the other hand, Juan Clavero of Ecologistas en Acción, does not understand how protected natural land can be given such a destination. 

Project of Strategic Importance 

The plan is far from new. As early as 2011, the then socialist government of Andalucia declared the project of great tourist interest. The current district council has now designated the large-scale urbanisation as a Project of Strategic Interest. And, as such, that is once again leading to discussion. A dedicated office for these types of projects is tasked with streamlining bureaucratic procedures. In addition to Següesal Golf Resort, there are almost 20 other strategically important initiatives. These include the construction of a hospital and various business parks and hotels. 

The 18-hole golf course will be located 5 kilometres inland from Barbate, adjacent to the Natural Park de la Breña and Las Marismas. However, Mayor Molina denounces the fact that the environmentalists only talk about the perimeter of the project. He says the actual surface area on which it is built is no larger than two football fields. Per hectare, 1.4 homes are being planned, which, according to Molina, is not a densely built-up urban project. 

Clavero, however, contradicts this and believes this mainly concerns a lot of land, so that it only seems as if not much is being built. As such, Ecologistas en Acción has already filed 101 objections against the arrival of the golf course. Among other things, it is suggested the site borders on a nature reserve. This is located outside the built-up core of Barbate and that the urban expansion to be realised is larger than the current municipal urbanisation. 

Conflicting interests 

83% of Barbate’s municipal land is protected for its ecological value. At the same time, there has been high unemployment and poverty in Barbate for decades. Molina wants to invest the income from municipal taxes in the infrastructure of Barbate and bring the village ‘up-to-date’. Therefore, the project is an excellent opportunity to raise the level of prosperity to a higher level with new tourism. 

Clavero does not deny the current problems Molina describes but prefers to see the solution differently. According to him, there is no question that Barbate can use new hotels, but they should not be built in nature. They should be within built-up areas instead. For example, investments could be made in tourist areas around the riverbed or the harbour. According to the environmental activist, this would also create the necessary employment. 

Baycrest Wealth

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