Spain's Top Court Says Resort Must Be Torn Down

Environmentalists said luxury development was built on protected land
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2022 6:38 PM CST

(Newser) – A big win for environmentalists in Spain after a 14-year legal battle: The country's top court has ordered the demolition of a luxury resort built in a protected area. The Spanish Supreme Court overturned a 2020 ruling from a regional court and said all the buildings at the Marina Isla de Valdecañas resort must be torn down and the development's golf course must be returned to a natural state, the New York Times reports. The resort on an island in a reservoir around two hours away from Madrid also includes 185 villas, a four-star hotel, and an artificial beach that developers said was the closest fine sand beach to the capital, CNN reports.

Construction of the resort in the Extremadura region began in 2007. It became a popular getaway for wealthy Madrid residents after it opened in 2010—but plans to build hundreds more villas and a second hotel were put on hold after environmental groups sued, saying the resort had been illegally built on land that was supposed to be protected habitat for endangered species. They warned that allowing the resort to stand would set a dangerous precedent. The cost of the demolition has been estimated at $165 million, including compensation for villa owners. "In the end all this could have been avoided," Angel Garcia Calle, a lawyer for the environmentalists, said after the top court's decision, per the Times of London. "We maintained from the start that it was illegal." (Read more Spain stories.)

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