News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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1,800 residents say ‘no' to dune destruction
Officials have green-lighted development on ‘valuable ecological site'
By David Eade
Plans to build an urbanisation on the last remaining rare dune zone in Marbella made front page news here on November 5. Now there have been two important developments - the Partido Popular administration management committee has given the scheme the go-ahead while around 1,800 residents have signed a petition opposing the destruction of the dunes. This latter action is backed by Ecologistas en Acción, Pro Dunas Marbella, the SEO ornithological society and Izquierda Unida.
Both the town hall and the regional government have given the green light to the development. This has angered environmentalists, who say the Barronal de la Morena in Las Chapas is a valuable ecological site with a wooded area on the dunes. The ecosystem supports woodland birds and includes plants and wildlife that are on the Andalucía red list of endangered flora and fauna.
The problem is that under the 1986 local development plan (PGOU) the area is zoned for urban use. The urbanisation has also received favourable technical and legal reports. Hence there is no legal reason why the construction should not proceed.
However, the Pro Dunas Marbella action group says that while that may be so, it is amazed and distressed that the town hall has taken no action to protect this valuable site and totally ignored the residents' protests and the calls from environmental groups and leading biologists.
Insurance pays 2.1 million euros to coach crash victims
Only the bus driver has held out in order to pursue legal action
By Oliver McIntyre
The insurance company Zurich has paid out 2.1 million euros to victims and family members from the April 2008 coach crash on the A7 motorway that killed nine Finnish tourists and left dozens injured.
The company, which is the insurer of the driver of the 4x4 vehicle that caused the accident, says only one victim, the coach driver, has refused payment in order to reserve his right to file a lawsuit. The others, including the families of the nine fatal victims plus 17 people who were seriously injured and 22 who suffered more minor injuries, have accepted payouts and forfeited their right to legal action, according to the company.
The insurer recognises that its client, Jesús G.R., was responsible for the accident. He tested positive for alcohol after the crash and was speeding in wet conditions on the A7 when he lost control of his vehicle near the border between Benalmádena and Torremolinos. The company says his vehicle collided with the guardrail on the left side of the motorway and then rebounded and smashed into the coach.
Spain blocks EU cross-border health care plan
Scheme would give patients right to reimbursement for care in other EU countries
By Oliver McIntyre
Spain was joined by at least six other countries last week to block an EU law defining patients' rights to receive treatment other EU countries.
Spain and other opponents felt the law - which would give patients the right to be reimbursed for treatment in other EU countries when they face lengthy waits at home - meant an unfair expense for countries that are popular as retirement destinations. Because the reimbursement would come from the country of residence, it would mean a Briton living in Spain could return to the UK for treatment, and Spain would have to pick up the bill.
The Spanish health minister, Trinidad Jiménez, said the law would have cost Spain some two billion euros a year. Further, she said the said it would undermine equality within domestic public health care systems. Among other things, it could allow a patient to be reimbursed for private treatment abroad, when the same private treatment at home would not be reimbursed, she said.
After EU health ministers failed to reach consensus on the law last week, the European Commission said it may now abandon the scheme, leaving it to the European Court of Justice to decide when patients treated in other EU countries are entitled to be reimbursed.