News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Battle over endangered dunes rages on
IU accuse PP and PSOE of colluding to allow development of the site
By David Eade
THE Izquierda Unida party has accused both the Partido Popular and PSOE of colluding to allow a development project to proceed on the sand dunes at Barronal de la Morera in Marbella.
As reported in a Costa del Sol News cover story last November, the dunes form the last such site on the Marbella coast and are considered of high ecological value. Their status has been supported by biologists and scientists at the University of Málaga and the Spanish ornithology society (SEO).
Despite this, Marbella town hall has approved the construction of 152 homes on 50,000 of the 75,000 square metres of the zone. The developer is acting legally because the land is zoned for urban use in the local development plan. The process to make the area urban started in 2004 and was approved by the regional government in November 2006.
Residents and environmentalists have signed a petition and spoken out loudly against the construction programme but the town hall has been deaf to their pleas. Around 1,800 complaints have been presented against the new urban development.
Now the Izquierda Unida party is blaming the ruling Partido Popular and the PSOE. They jointly rejected an IU proposal to declare the site a natural monument when it was raised on the environmental commission at the Andalucía parliament, says the party. In addition, the new PGOU presented by the PP administration in Marbella and approved by the PSOE regional government maintains the site's classification for urban development.
New Portuguese Man-of-War alert
Gibraltar issues warning after the ‘jellyfish' were spotted in the Bay
By David Eade
THE Government of Gibraltar has issued an alert over the threat of Portuguese Men-of-War in local waters. The warning comes just a month after Costa del Sol News reported the presence of Portuguese Men-of-War in Costa waters when Sandra Wijnveldt, a reader in Marbella, found hundreds of the jellyfish-like creatures washed up on her local beach (CDSN, February 4).
In a statement, the Gibraltar Government said various specimens of Portuguese Man-of-War, otherwise known as the ‘blue bubble', had been seen. The latest sighting, reported by the Royal Gibraltar Police, was of a shoal of about 20 specimens at approximately 50 to 100 metres off Sandy Bay and some are reported to have landed at Camp Bay and Rosia Bay. Beach users, fishermen, divers and bathers are advised to keep well away from them as they are highly dangerous.
This species is more common in the Atlantic and has reached the waters of Gibraltar due to the prevailing wind conditions that have which wash up on shore) can sting just as painfully as the live creature in the water.
Residents fight to keep El Torcal valley free of wind farms
By Oliver McIntyre
A RESIDENT activist group has launched a battle to keep windmills out of the southern El Torcal valley.
The group, called El Quijote Contra los Molinos, is seeking the support of local town halls to prohibit the installation of wind farms in the zone, located between Antequera and Álora. It is formed by residents and associations concerned by the desire of a number of companies to set up huge windmills in what one member, Malcolm Busby, describes as "one of the most beautiful valleys in Andalucía."
The group, which includes foreign residents as well as Spaniards, recently received the support of Antequera town hall, whose mayor, Ricardo Millán has said the town's local development plan (PGOU) will highlight the protected status of the zone, part of which is a natural park. Villanueva de la Concepción town hall has also expressed opposition to wind parks in the area, but the residents' group says Valle de Abdalajís is in favour of the windmills while Álora and Amogía have been non-committal.
In addition to lobbying the town halls, the group has been informing local residents and "there is now a groundswell of opposition to the building of windmills in this area," Mr Busby told Costa del Sol News.
Costa appeal nabs 50 per cent of UK's ‘most wanted'
Crimestoppers' Operation Captura has helped catch 31 criminals
By Oliver McIntyre
Five of the 10 fugitives featured in the most recent campaign have been caught in just six months
SIX months after the launch of Crimestoppers' latest appeal on the Costa, half of the UK's most wanted criminals featured in the campaign have been arrested, officials announced last week. The latest arrest came on February 19 when Jody Flynn, from Merseyside, was detained as he attempted to enter the UK from Spain at the Port of Dover using an alias.
Flynn, 28, was wanted in connection with offences of grievous bodily harm and had been on the run for over a year. He was one of 10 fugitives featured in the Crimestappers' latest campaign on the Costa, which was launched on September 23, 2009. Five of them have now been arrested to face justice in the UK.
Crimestoppers' founder and chair, Lord Ashcroft, KCMG said, "The exposure that these appeals have had, largely thanks to the media, has meant that we are now flushing dangerous criminals out of hiding."
The overarching campaign in Spain known as Operation Captura was first launched in 2006 and has helped to achieve 31 arrests over the last four years. "The campaign is clearly working for law enforcement but not for the criminals," said Lord Ashcroft.
Photographs and descriptions of the fugitives are posted on Crimestoppers' website (www.crimestoppers.es) and members of the public can give anonymous information either online or by calling the freephone in Spain (900 555 111), which is answered in the UK by Crimestoppers call agents.
Credit card break-in gang busted
Police say group carried out 20 robberies in Costa towns
By Oliver McIntyre
AFTER a month-long investigation police have broken up a robbery gang that allegedly broke into homes by using plastic credit cards or x-ray film to open the doors. Officials say the Mijas-based gang carried out some 20 robberies along the Costa and National Police officers recovered more than 20,000 euros' worth of jewellery in the operation.
Police arrested three men and one woman, aged 22 to 30 and all Bulgarian. It is understood at least some of them are members of a single family. Police say they broke into homes in the early morning hours, sometimes while the occupants were sleeping inside.
The first three arrests were made on the street in Fuengirola, where the alleged thieves were found to have numerous pieces of jewellery stuffed in socks that were hidden in their undergarments. A subsequent house search netted the fourth arrest as well as the recovery of additional jewellery
Reporting the arrests, National Police officials in Málaga urged members the public to always lock their house door with the key, even when at home or when going out for a short time. The plastic-card method of opening a door, known in Spanish police jargon as the ‘resbalón' method, only works when the door is closed but not locked with the key, they said.