Spain: The Power of Perseverance

10/6/15

ELAW eBulletin
Spain: The Power of Perseverance

Farmland in Murcia
Farmland in Murcia.  Photo: Eduardo Salazar

More than 10 years ago, ELAW partner Eduardo Salazar and his organization Aja! came to the aid of a farming community in Murcia, Spain, whose orchards on the Mediterranean Coast were threatened by a 3,500 unit housing development.  The housing project also threatened Roman ruins.

ELAW partners from around the world helped Aja!  make a strong case before the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee and national courts that citizens were being left out of the decision making process.  Without access to information about environmental impacts, there was no access to justice.  In 2008, the Compliance Committee ruled in favor of the community while Spain's Regional Authority granted permission for a much smaller housing development, one third the size of the original.

The housing development was built in 2009.

This week, Eduardo writes that Spain's Supreme Court has ruled that the homes in the smaller development are illegal!  The Court says Murcia's land use planning board did not take into proper consideration the impact of the homes and infrastructure on water resources.

"Thanks to ELAW, the voice of the public was heard," says Eduardo.  "The homes are already built and enforcing the new order will be difficult, but authorities and investors in future projects will be wary."

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Maggie Keenan
Communications Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide