Monday, May 29, 2017

Son Bosc - The End?

Ever since I've been writing about Mallorca - the starting date, if you must know, was 1 November 2005 - there have been issues that have regularly surfaced. One such is the controversy over the golf course on the Son Bosc finca in Muro. This may be the last time I need to mention the golf course. The Balearic High Court has dismissed an appeal by the developers. It has ratified a previous court decision which ruled that the licence to develop the course, given by Muro town hall, was illegal.

One can never be absolutely certain with the law, certainly not here, but the environmentalists GOB seem pretty sure. The court's ruling "definitively" puts an end to the possibility of developing the course. The decision has gone against the company Golf Platja de Muro, which comprises certain hotel chains, and the environmentalists will be breathing a sigh of relief.

It was at one time unclear to me how much sense there was with building this course. It was the business angle that was my main misgiving, but as the years passed and the drive towards lengthening the tourism season and eating into the winter months became ever greater a theme, I started to see the possibilities. Playa de Muro, for all that it has now acquired late-winter tourism courtesy of cycling, is still pretty much dead in the winter. A golf course might just have brought it to life.

Business, though, was not on the minds of opponents. They weren't only the environmentalists. There were people in Muro who objected as well. This came home to me when there was a protest against what was then the plan to eventually demolish the cottages of Ses Casetes des Capellans. A banner read that Capellans was for the people, a golf course was for the rich.

The environmental argument was strong. It had the backing of the international Ramsar wetlands convention on account of the finca being, more or less, an extension of Albufera. Various species were identified which could be harmed: a rare orchid, bee-eating birds and so on. The argument had political support. This really came to the fore as a result of the upheaval in the 2007-2011 government. The Unió Mallorquina, ejected from the coalition by President Antich because of the numerous corruption cases that had engulfed it, had been in charge of the environment ministry. Clearance work at the finca had started. When the UM was removed, the PSM (Majorcan socialists), now the main component of Més, gained the ministry. Everything changed and pretty much immediately.

Reacting to the ruling, Més say that it defends one of the most sensitive and important natural environments in the Balearics. The appeal to the High Court was the last resort. So, is it all over? Quite probably it is, but if there were thoughts of further appeal, these might in any event be dashed by the government's reform of tourism legislation. The building of new golf courses is to "definitively" be prohibited. But how definitive is definitive?

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