PROVINCIA DE CáCERES – Finally there is judgment. The Supreme Court rules that the golf resort on Spain’s Isla de Valdecañas must be completely demolished. In addition to the golf course, 185 luxury villas and a hotel must also disappear.
The luxury resort of Marina Isla de Valdecañas in the province of Cáceres covers 135 hectares with more than 180 villas, a 4-star hotel, and a golf course. However, after a 14-year legal battle, the facility, built in 2007, has to be completely demolished. Why? Because the luxury mega-complex was built in the middle of a protected nature reserve.
Spanish court overturns verdict and orders demolition
Two years ago, a local court in Extremadura ruled that the golf course and hotel complex could remain. Furthermore, the judge cited the enormous economic consequences for the region as the reason. The costs of the demolition and compensation to the owners would be about €150 million, €34 million for demolition, and €110 million for possible damages to the owners of the houses and the hotel. The regional government should cough up those costs. The court also ruled in 2020 that the resort would not cause any environmental damage.
Requirement: complete renaturation of the area
The environmental protection organisation “Ecologistas en Acción” was not happy with this decision and appealed again. They demand complete restoration to the original condition of the area of the golf resort. Spain’s highest court has now upheld this objection. Consequently, this means the golf course and all other facilities on the Isla de Valdecañas, a peninsula in the reservoir of the same name, will have to disappear.
Owners and mayor angry
The golfresort’s owner’s lawyers filed immediate appeal. Furthermore the mayor is furious by the Spanish court’s ruling. Ángel Pedro Martínez sharply criticized: “If you want us to remain poor in Extremadura and do nothing to move forward, that the villages continue to die out, Madrid must pay us money for our clean air.”
For the small villages of Berrocalejo and El Goro, the financial burden of the golf course and the demolition of the hotel would amount to bankruptcy. According to Martinez, the construction is compatible with environmental protection. There is no denying that this claim may be true in principle. Golf courses in particular can make an important contribution to preserving local biological diversity.
Ecologistas en Acción said through its website that the only purpose with which the environmental organization always acts is to “ensure compliance with the law”. With their lawsuit, they also wanted to avoid setting a precedent “in which rampant urban development destroys numerous natural areas”. The organization welcomed the Court’s decision. Their Instagram page reads: “Today we celebrate a big victory: the Supreme Court has upheld Ecologistas and Acción’s appeal against the order of the TSJ of Extremadura. The luxury complex in Valdecañas (Extremadura) will be completely demolished.”
A day after the court’s verdict, Ecologistas and Acción said being “hugely harassed by the media” for the intention to comply with urban legality. The organization demands that “the real culprits of the fiasco” of the Marina Isla Valdecañas urbanization will be held accountable.