The Constitutional Court paralyzed in June, in a precautionary manner, the beginning of the demolition of the entire luxury complex Isla Marina de Valdecañas, in Cáceres, ordered by the Supreme Court in June. In another twist of this case that has been going on for years, this Friday, the High Court of Justice of Extremadura has issued an order in which it agrees that "everything that is in structure or is not finished and in operation" is demolished. According to this court, this does not include the infrastructure or housing to which the suspension of the Constitutional Court refers. The demolition only affects, therefore, the second planned hotel and the rest of the villas, of which there are only a few concrete skeletons, as well as the finished ones that serve as the developer's office and the pilot floor. In addition, the "restoration and revegetation of the area" must be carried out. The execution of the demolition is the responsibility of the Junta de Extremadura, which must approve a work plan. An appeal may be lodged against the order.
The demolition must be carried out in an "orderly and scheduled manner with the least harm to the environment," the order states. The works must allow the replacement of the land to a process of regeneration to the Mediterranean forest and suppose a benefit for the fauna and flora of the environment.
The resort is located in the municipalities of El Gordo and Berrocalejo, on an island of just under 135 hectares, and has a hotel and an 18-hole golf course, both currently in operation. Also part of the complex are 185 built villas, which are mainly used as second homes. Ecologists in Action and Adenex, two environmental organizations, denounced the urban plans almost 20 years ago because the facilities are located in an area declared a Special Protection Area for Birds and is part of the Natura Network (biodiversity conservation areas in the European Union).
During the long judicial process, in which it has been determined that the complex is illegal, both the Junta de Extremadura – which gave all the permits for it to be built – and the owners have tried to stop the demolition. The process has taken multiple turns with sentences that saved the facilities and resources for all parties involved.
Along the way, the Supreme Court made it clear in a February 2022 ruling that the environment prevailed over the socio-economic cost that the disappearance of urbanization could cause, which would cost 145 million euros. The Supreme Court recalled that when the Junta de Extremadura approved the Plan of Regional Interest Marina Isla de Valdecañas, which allowed the construction of facilities and homes, "acted as if the protection of the land did not exist and decided to transform the soil urbanistically as if it were land without any protection". It was an action contrary to law "as the Junta de Extremadura did not act as the first and effective guarantor of environmental and urban planning".
The suspension of the demolition works by the Constitutional Court as a precautionary measure was a consequence of the admission to processing of the appeals presented by the Junta de Extremadura, the municipalities of El Gordo and Berrocalejo, and the community of owners of the resort. The aim is to avoid irreparable damage to the interests of the appellants, as could happen if the demolitions are now initiated and later the court itself considers that, as alleged in the challenges, in the judicial procedure followed in this process there would have been some violation of fundamental rights.
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