Costa del Sol News - 20th July 2006

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Week 20th July - 26th July 2006

Nerja golf course saga takes an optimistic turn
Relocation of golf course could prove successful

By Oliver McIntyre

APPROVAL FOR A GOLF COURSE IN NERJA WAS EXPECTED FROM THE JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA THIS WEEK. THE MOVE FOLLOWS THE RESITING OF THE PROPOSED FACILITY AFTER THE LAND ORIGINALLY CHOSEN WAS RECLASSIFIED AS A GREEN ZONE.
Negotiations to find a new location Nerja’s golf course have been underway for some weeks after the Junta’s bombshell announcement in the spring. The developers Medgroup were reported to have gone into talks with Salsa, the Socieded Azucarera Larios, about moving the golf course onto land owned by Larios. This would position it outside the Natural Park of the Tejeda, Alhama and Almijara Sierras.
MedGroup signed a 15 million euro deal with Nerja Town Hall in October 2004 to allow them to build an 18-hole golf course in the municipality, complete with four-star luxury hotel, tourist and residential accommodation, and public leisure facilities. It was estimated that the project would create 400 jobs directly, plus many other indirect jobs. However, in April this year, despite previously authorising the plans, the Junta de Andalucía performed a U-turn and declared the land to be a green zone, also pointing out that the part of the planned golf course would have been on land within the Natural Park.
Medgroup and Larios are reported to have been maintaining high-level contacts in Málaga, Sevilla and Barcelona, and on Monday, Nerja’s mayor, José Alberto Armijo, announced that his meeting with Concepción Gutiérrez, the region’s councillor for Public Works, had had a positive outcome. The golf course, he reported, will now be built in the area known as Tetuán in the Tablazos of Maro in a residential zone which runs between the N340 and the old San Joaquín sugar factory.
The mayor also announced that the revised POT, the region’s 10 year development plan which ruled out the original golf project, would also include other changes with new elements which would support Nerja’s plans to build a marine within the municipality. Sr Armijo said he was ‘pleased but not completely satisfied’ although he described the changes as ‘an advance’.

TWO GOLF COURSES?
Municipal officials believe that this solution will result in Nerja’s long-awaited golf course going ahead while at the same time respecting the demands of the POT. It is also being suggested that the municipality could end up with two golf courses – an 18 hole top-class course on Larios’ land, and a smaller, 9 hole course on the original site under a revised plan, without the planned hotel and other sports facilities, which would negate use of land within the Natural Park.


High court to review appeal in Wanninkhof case
NEWS Staff Reporter

Tony Alexander King’s trial for the 1999 murder of Mijas teenager Rocío Wanninkhof has yet to be scheduled and may now be further delayed due to an appeal against rulings on the admissibility of certain evidence and witnesses, including Dolores Vázquez. The Andalucía High Court is to review the appeals filed by Tony Alexander King’s lawyers, who want to get Sra Vázquez and others in the witness box, and by lawyers for the victim’s family, who want further investigation of a bag containing blood-stained underwear and other items that was left last summer on the front porch of the victim’s mother.
The provincial court ruled against the inclusion of the witnesses as well as the further study of the bag containing the victim’s personal effects and some cigarette butts. It ruled in favour of the prosecutor, who argued that a Guardia Civil examination of the bag’s contents found it offered no useful evidence, and that the extra witnesses would serve only to confuse the case. Dolores Vázquez, a former girlfriend of the victim’s mother, was originally found guilty for the murder, but the trial was overturned and, after King’s arrest, all charges against her were dropped.


Estepona Golf residents are teed off
British homeowners upset with 'extortionate' infrastructure charges

By David Eade

A BATTLE OF WORDS HAS BROKEN OUT BETWEEN SOME OF THE RESIDENTS OF ESTEPONA GOLF, MANY OF THEM BRITISH, AND THE URBANISATION’S MANAGEMENT.
The majority shareholder in Estepona Golf is businessman Rory Leader. Amongst the list of 12 allegations made against him are that he formed a committee with the developers called the ‘Junta De La Compensación’ and that its meetings were held with no proper notice given to residents, or given “only within days of the meeting on an A5 piece of paper put on a golf club notice board – and not all of us play golf.”
The protestors allege that two community presidents have since tried to join the Junta De la Compensación by applying correctly through the Town Hall and claim “so far no response has been received to either of them.”
The crux of the dispute is financial, surrounding infrastructure charges being billed to the residents. The protestors say that at the very first meeting held in the clubhouse in September 2004, it was made clear that nobody would have to pay and the fees would be met by the developers. However, the residents say they subsequently discovered charges “of extortionate amounts made by the Junta De La Compensación with the approval of the Mayor of Estepona and his politicians responsible for urban development.”
The residents claim that it is not clear how the infrastructure charges were calculated, noting that one villa may be billed double the amount paid by another property of the same size whilst a higher-valued villa may be charged significantly less. Charges range from 5,000 euros for apartments to 40,000 euros for some villas.

MANAGEMENT’S RESPONSE
Asked about the residents’ complaints, Rory Leader told Costa del Sol News: “I’ve really tried not to get drawn into individual discussions relating to the subject of the infrastructure here at the urbanisation.” He declined to speak for the mayor or Town Hall but stated: “As with many projects similar to ours which got into difficulties in the early 90s, Estepona Golf found itself with unfinished infrastructure which has worsened dramatically over the last few years. We applied for a ‘re-parcelisation’ of the Estepona Golf urbanisation about 5 years ago – more than anything, to try to control future development, but also to centralise and apportion funds to rectify the infrastructure. Because the volume of land on the golf course is included … we find ourselves as the majority land owner, therefore heading the Junta de Compensacion.”
In answer to the claims that residents had not been informed, Mr Leader stated that “at all times, we have gone out of our way to inform anybody that has an interest here of what is going on. Not only have meetings been notified on our notice board, but in accordance with law, have always been notified via national press.”
Mr Leader acknowledged that two ‘presidents’ have tried to join the Junta de Compensacion but added, “They aren’t presidents of any legal body as far as I’m aware. Although these people may represent the views of some residents…it doesn't entitle them to join the Junta de Compensacion, whose board is formed from representatives of the biggest developers/landholders.”
On the residents’ claim that they were to incur no costs, Mr Leader stated: “I totally and utterly refute this. I have no idea why they would even think that they would never have to contribute anything - however nominal.”
Mr Leader told CDSN that representatives of anyone connected with the urbanisation have for months had access to a copy of the re-parcelisation at the Town Hall. He added: “Although we weren't obliged to, there has also been a secondary copy held at the golf course for anybody who wishes to see it. This is well known to representatives of residents.”


Nerja mayor reaches deal on El Playazo
By Dave Jamieson

A clearer picture of how Nerja’s El Playazo area will develop has emerged after the town’s mayor announced plans for the zone that he says have been agreed to in principle by the central government.
Earlier this year, the national press carried news of Madrid’s intention to expropriate four areas of the Andalucían coast in order to protect them from overdevelopment, with El Playazo on their list of targets. Last week, the local secretary of the opposition PSOE party in Nerja, Ángel Ramírez, confirmed the area to be expropriated as 120,000 square metres of land within 100 metres of shoreline.
However, at a press conference on his return from meeting with officials in Madrid, Mayor José Alberto Armijo claimed that the government would not, after all, be forcibly taking control of the coastal strip. He said he had told Coastal Authority officials that it was unnecessary for the department to spend money on the expropriation or to “bother” the 30 landowners affected.
The mayor appears to have pre-empted the government by announcing that he is already in liaison with the owners and expects to come an agreement with them which will reflect the development losses each would incur if expropriation went ahead.
According to Sr Armijo, his proposition was accepted in principle by Madrid, although the Town Council has yet to approve his intention to finally put the land at the disposal of Costas. Reports say that the government has now withdrawn El Playazo beach from its list of sites for expropriation.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Environment has announced three more coastal areas east of Málaga to be expropriated for preservation. These include the beach at Maro in Nerja, the Vélez River delta in Vélez-Málaga and Torrox’s El Morche beach.
The mayor of Torrox, Francisco Muñoz, said he was surprised by the inclusion of El Morche beach and that he had had no advance notice of the news from Madrid. He added that the area had been defined as developable 10 years ago, a decision which had been approved by all relevant authorities. Sr Muñoz said he could not understand the logic of the ministry’s taking such action without having consulted local officials and lacking knowledge of existing construction plans and business concessions.


Ronda golf course developer swings at greens

NEWS Staff Reporter

The developer of the Los Merinos Norte golf complex in Ronda is fighting back against claims by the environmental group Silvema – Ecologistas en Acción that the scheme is illegal. The company says it will bring a criminal and civil case against the environmentalists, alleging that it has been the victim for years of misrepresentation and falsehoods.
The developer made the legal move after a further round in the battle to stop the controversial golf project got underway when Silvema asked the anti-corruption prosecutor to act against the project, which the group says has not been approved by the Junta de Andalucía.
The ecologists have given the prosecutor a copy of the document granting the Town Hall’s approval for the project to proceed. Ronda’s mayor, Antonio Marín, has strongly backed the development. Several month’s ago he issued a decree giving the project the go-ahead and stressed it could not be stropped.
Undeterred, Silvema says the development contravenes the regional government’s regulations because the environmental impact report insists that no more than 25 per cent of the land can be built on. In contrast, the ecologists argue, the project presented by the developers and approved by the Town Hall seeks to transform the whole site.
Part of the main opposition to the development has come from residents and the administration of Cuevas del Becerro, who fear the golf course along with its hotels and residential development will make intolerable demands on their existing water supply.
The water authority has issued a report stating that demand already exceeds supply in the area. The developers of the golf course say that it would need 5,540 cubic metres of water a day to maintain.
The Málaga delegate of the Junta’s Environment Department, Ignacio Trillo, has stated that as of yet the development has no guaranteed water supply. He added that Ronda Town Hall had no jurisdiction to act in this matter and it was for the regional government and the water authority to decide. He stressed that at present no water had been allocated to the development and nor had the developers made any application to the regional government regarding its water needs.


Regional government defiant over development plan
‘POT’ plan to have ‘positive effect’ on the Costa

By David Eade

THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT’S MINISTER FOR PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORT, CONCEPCIÓN GUTIÉRREZ, HAS DEFIANTLY DEFENDED THE ‘POT’ PLAN SAYING THAT IT WOULD HAVE A ‘VERY POSITIVE EFFECT’ ON THE COSTA DEL SOL AND STRESSED THAT THE ANDALUCÍA EXECUTIVE INTENDS TO REMAIN FIRM OVER ITS IMPLEMENTATION.
She was speaking at a press conference in Sevilla in response to questions from Málaga based journalists after the mayor of Estepona, Antonio Barrientos, said his local administration would reject the plan. The minister stated that the plan had been created after three years hard work and added: “It has a super-municipal vision to resolve the problems that affect the Costa del Sol”. She also thanked the town halls as well as the social and economic groups for their work.
Sra Gutiérrez accepted that for some municipalities the POT plan (Plan de Ordenacion del Territorio) could create problems but noted that it had been supported by 90 per cent of the municipalities, with 66 per cent of the Costa now being protected.

RURAL PROTESTS
The main POT protests in Estepona come from the owners of rural homes. They claim that the implementation of the plan will mean that they cannot divide up their plots or legalise their properties. Up till now they have had the support of mayor, Antonio Barrientos, who had called on local people to hold demonstrations.
However in the face of criticism from the regional government Sr Barrientos has backed down and cancelled an emergency council meeting called to discuss the POT. This in turn has led to the rural property owners voicing their disappointment at their mayor’s actions and holding an impromptu protest march through the streets of Estepona. Future blockades of the A-7 (old N-340) are planned in their campaign to highlight the injustices of the POT proposals.


Benalmádena IBI tax reduction
Real estate tax rate discount announced
By Oliver McIntyre

BENALMÁDENA TOWN HALL HAS ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR AN ACROSS-THE-BOARD 10 PER CENT REDUCTION IN ITS IBI REAL-ESTATE TAX RATE NEXT YEAR.
When added to other discounts already available to ‘exemplary citizens’ of the town, the rate cut will mean potential IBI tax reductions of up to 38 per cent.
The 10 per cent reduction, which will apply to all residents, whether registered (‘empadronado’) or not, comes as a measure to counteract the major IBI increase experienced in the town due to a revision of the official cadastral values of homes, explained Town Hall officials. The revised assessments were performed in 2005 for the first time in 16 years and the huge jump in assessed values meant a steep IBI hike for homeowners throughout the town.
The 10 per cent IBI cut still has to be formally approved in the Town Council, which officials say will occur either later this month or in September.
For the remaining 28 per cent available discount, residents have to meet certain conditions. People considered by the Town Hall to be ‘exemplary citizens’ – those who are ‘empadronado’ and have no outstanding municipal debts – get a 23 per cent discount on their IBI bill. This good-Samaritan benefit has been available for some time; it used to be set at 16 per cent but late last year the Town Hall increased it to 23 per cent.
The final five per cent IBI discount goes to all homeowners who pay the tax via a direct-payment system from their bank.


Magic arrives in Torremolinos
By Oliver McIntyre

AFTER FIVE YEARS OF PLANNING AND CONSTRUCTION, TORREMOLINOS’ NEW MAGIC PALACE OPENED TO THE PUBLIC SATURDAY NIGHT WITH ITS RESIDENT ILLUSIONISTS, THE DUTCH TRIO OSCAR, RENZO AND MARA.
Brothers Oscar and Renzo and their female partner Mara have performed their magic for audiences around the world. The trio quickly rose to stardom in the Netherlands and beyond after launching their professional act in 1996 as teenagers, and have since performed in Las Vegas and other international venues and broadcast numerous television specials.
Oscar and Renzo’s father, the Dutch TV personality Hans Kazan, decided five years ago to help the group launch the Magic Palace as a place they could settle down and perform in residence rather than continue their frenzied tour schedules. Now the trio expects to spend 11 months of the year performing in their Torremolinos theatre.
Torremolinos Town Hall supported the project, providing the Kazans municipal land on which to build the theatre and a 50-year concession to operate it. The Kazans invested more than 6m euros building and outfitting the 400-seat theatre and will pay the Town Hall an annual concession fee of 60,100 euros.
Oscar, Renzo and Mara are currently staging their show at 22.30 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 22.00 on Sundays, with plans for additional show times in the near future. Tickets are 35 euros, or 65 euros for a special VIP zone. The box office at the theatre, located near the Aqualand water park, is open 10.00 to 20.00 daily and tickets can also be purchased online (www.magicpalace.info).


BriEnrique Iglesias to open Málaga feria
By Dave Jamieson

The eyes of the music world will be on Málaga one Saturday night next month as Enrique Iglesias helps the city’s annual fair to get under way. The night of August 11 on La Malagueta beach will see a spectacular, free beach party organised by MTV which is expected to attract a crowd of more than 100,000.
“MTV Summer Málaga 2006” will be Enrique Iglesias’ first appearance in Spain for some years and his only concert on home ground this year. With sales of around 40 million discs worldwide, he is the world’s leading Latin recording artist and his appearance in Málaga will be a stunning opener for the city’s most important social event of the year. Complementing him will be Paulina Rubio, one of Latin music’s most exciting female singers, and the Madrid quartet Pignoise, an energetic punk band led by former Real Madrid player, Alvaro Benito. Around 300 technicians from MTV will record the whole concert using a dozen cameras and seven kilometres of cables, with 1,000 kilowatts of lighting illuminating a stage 27 metres long and 24 metres wide.
Málaga Town Hall is investing 800,000 euros in the event because of the promotional value to the city when the recording is transmitted to MTV’s huge audience. The concert, which will follow the prégon, the official opening of the fair, and fireworks, will mark the start of over a week of traditional celebrations in the city dating back to 1491. The day time events in the historic city centre and the night time revelries at the fairground will, as usual, attract thousands to one the region’s most important annual celebrations.


Fires hit Cadiz province
Conil suffers five fires in one week

By David Eade

THE PROVINCE OF CÁDIZ HAS BEEN A HOT SPOT FOR FIRES IN ANDALUCÍA AS DRY LIGHTNING STRIKES HAVE SET THE REGION ABLAZE.
Conil has suffered its fifth fire in a week, with an outbreak at the weekend which saw the camping site at Cala del Aceite evacuated by the civil defence force. Some campers sought safety in the sea as the blaze destroyed 25 hectares of land. The fire fighters were hampered in their efforts by the strong Levante wind blowing at the time.
Two fire fighting aircraft, two helicopters and a co-ordination aircraft helped Infoca specialist fire teams and local fire brigades tackle the inferno. Aircraft were called in from Málaga airport that can drop 10,000 litres of water as well as a 6,000 litre capacity helicopter from the Infoca base at La Almoraima.
The area affected in the latest blaze was between Puntalejo and the Cala del Aceite close to Conil’s fishing port. The 25 hectares of land included scrub as well as pine forest. Fire fighters cut firebreaks to stop the fire reaching the Roche pine forest and the nearby urbanisation. However two cars were destroyed by the flames but mercifully their owners were safely on the beach at the time.


Summer problems for mobile users
By Dave Jamieson

ONE OF THE NEWER SUMMER TRADITIONS ON THE COSTA DEL SOL IS IN THE NEWS ONCE AGAIN AS HOLIDAYMAKERS FIND THEY CANNOT ALWAYS GET A SIGNAL ON THEIR MOBILE TELEPHONES.
Alongside the nine out of ten residents estimated to have a mobile, the increased demand generated by thousands of tourists is stretching the communications infrastructure beyond its limits.
There are already about 3,000 transmitting antennae in the province of Málaga, but the operators, including Movistar, Amena and Vodafone, claim that the city of Málaga alone requires 20 per cent more to provide optimum coverage, while additional stations are also needed in blackspots such as Rincón de la Victoria, Antequera and Vélez-Málaga. However, they say, they have reached an “impasse” with Town Halls when it comes to getting permission to construct them. In the past year, they claim that “no new licences have been conceded and the few which have been authorised have counted for little,” while the situation in Málaga city is “paralysed”.
The discord between the operators and local councils began three years ago following publicity given to cases of cancer linked to radiation from mobile phone transmitting masts.

SECURITY ZONES
However, the companies have been backed by the World Health Organisation’s view that the antennae are not prejudicial to health. Operators are also critical of the “restrictive” requirements imposed by Town Halls which outlaw the presence of a mast in “security zones”, such as schools and hospitals. A spokesman for the operators said, “A child who spends six hours at school is better protected than in his home.”


Beer drinking research findings
By David Eade

According to a study carried out by a Madrid university the moderate consumption of beer is beneficial to your health. Doctors at the chemistry faculty of the Alcala de Henares University, María José González and Isabel Meseguer, recently presented their findings at the Málaga medical college.
The tests that made up the report were carried out on mice. It was found that the daily consumption of two ‘cañas’ of beer of 200 milligrams gave 50 per cent of the minimum required amount of silicon. According to the doctors this mineral interacts with aluminium and is important in preventing dementia and other neuro-degenerative illnesses.
The experiments that have not been carried out on humans also showed an important advance in the fight against diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The doctors found during their research that the incorporation of silicon in the diet allowed the reduction in the levels of aluminium in the blood plasma and brain fabric. It also limited the absorption of this metal in the intestines leading them to proclaim the moderate consumption of beer as a possible protection factor.



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