Promises turning turtle

Controversy surrounding construction of the high speed AVE train line past Cuevas de Almanzora shows no sign of abating, with residents up in arms over the location chosen for an endangered species reserve.

Up to 270 families, most in the hamlet of Los Lobos, expect to be told on Monday their land will be forcibly taken.

Village spokesman Serafin Garcia said his neighbour “doesn’t know if they will steal an orange grove or his house.”

EWN has been following the story since 2011, when it was announced a protected area would be created for the population of spur-thighed tortoise.

Initial space outlined was vetoed after complaints from 131 farmers who would have to cede land currently cultivating citrus fruits, olives and lettuce.

In 2015, a second proposal revealed the situation for the local community was far worse.

The boundaries of the reserve had indeed been moved, but the new space occupies an area including farmland and family homes, farmhouses, and commercial greenhouses.

Protests led politicians to promise an alternative but a year on nothing’s been done. Residents are expecting letters confirming forced expropriation of land to be delivered by September 26.

Last week, officials from rail administrators ADIF appeared at the site, placing stakes around the boundaries of the future reserve further infuriating residents, particularly those of Los Lobos. Homeowners don’t know how much of their land will be taken.

Mr Garcia added ruefully: “We have no problem with the tortoises or the AVE, just the measures that will leave us without a future.”

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