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Entire golf resort built in protected area must be demolished, Spanish court rules

By Jack Guy, CNN

An entire golf resort, four-star hotel and nearly 200 houses must be destroyed after being built in a protected natural area, Spain’s highest court has ruled, following a 14-year legal battle.

The luxury Marina Isla de Valdecañas development, which features 185 villas, a four-star hotel and an artificial beach, should be demolished, according to a supreme court decision published Tuesday.

The development was built on an island — La Isla de Valdecañas — in a reservoir in the Extremadura region, western Spain, with hundreds more villas and a second hotel slated to be added to the site.

The luxury development is around 100 miles west of Madrid, and it boasts the closest fine sand beach to the Spanish capital, according to its website.

It has been subject to a 14-year legal battle brought by an ecological campaign group named Ecologistas en Acción, which said the development had been built in a protected area that should be returned to its natural state.

CNN has contacted Marina Isla de Valdecañas for comment.

In July 2020 a court in Extremadura ruled that the hotel, villas and golf course, which were already in operation, should remain standing as they were not causing environmental damage.

The ruling estimated the cost of destroying the whole development would be nearly 34 million euros ($38.8 million), and compensation to property owners would reach 111 million euros ($126.7 million).

It therefore ruled out demolition on economic grounds, as the regional Extremadura government would have had to foot the bill, and said that only facilities still under construction should be destroyed.

However Tuesday’s decision overrules that ruling and orders their demolition.

Ecologistas en Acción celebrated the latest ruling, which it said avoids setting a “dangerous precedent” for other illegally constructed buildings.

Guillermo Fernández Vara, president of the Extramadura regional government, said on Wednesday he would try to save the development, likely by lodging an appeal with Spain’s constitutional court.

Top image credit: Google Earth

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