On 2nd September the Popular Party-Ciudadanos coalition government of Orihuela gave approval to a modified plan to build 2,200 new houses and apartments on Cala Mosca, the last unspoilt natural area of Orihuela Costa.
They know the consequence will be to remove an environmental jewel, enjoyed by walkers, cyclists, dog lovers and those seeking access to its secluded coves. This seals the fate of the coast to become an ever increasing densely urbanised part of the municipality suffering from road congestion and inadequate basic services and infrastructure.
This is a huge project. It will add at least 6,000 people or 20 percent to those on the padron in Orihuela Costa. The governments of Orihuela has a poor track record in ensuring that the provision of basic services keeps up with the increasing population resulting from its never ending approval of new housing projects. A huge development like Cala Mosca will predictably result in a major deterioration in services like street cleaning, rubbish removal, maintenance of streets, pavements, parks and gardens.
In addition, unless there is considerable investment in the drainage and sewage treatment system, which has been overdue for several years, there will be an increase in the already regular blow outs which result in sewage pumping out onto the streets. This was the case recently when a burst pipe under La Zenia roundabout saw thousands of litres of raw sewage in the streets, a huge hole of 3 metres deep and traffic chaos.
The project since its beginning in the 1990’s has been and it still is shrouded in objections and irregularities. The most important outstanding objection comes from the Ministry of Transport responsible for the national road N332 which is the vital north-south axis for Orihuela Costa. This road is already highly congested at several times of the year especially in the months of July and August causing delays, traffic jams and frustration. The Ministry of Transport has categorically stated that the Cala Mosca building project which would add over two thousand additional vehicles and has only one direct exit, on to the N332, cannot go ahead until the remedial measures which it has stipulated, including those relating to noise levels, have been adopted at the cost of the Developer. If it is approved, the Ministry has said that it will take all legal measures at its disposal to nullify the decision of the Orihuela municipal government. This objection alone, should have cautioned the government against submitting its approval to the vote in the Plenary where of course they have a majority.
There are other outstanding objections including from the Environmental Prosecutor’s office which considers the Developer’s calculations underestimate the population of two protected species which are present on Cala Mosca.
A spokesman for local political party C.L.A.R.O said: “It is clear that the urgency in approving the project reflected the interests of the powerful Developer Gomendio. The governing PP and Ciudadanos coalition have put his interests above the interests of the citizens of the municipality living in Orihuela Costa. In a democracy, this choice will have its political consequences.”
Before then, however, the recent vote on is not the end of the story to save Cala Mosca. Although approval of the modified project is a very serious setback, legal challenges can be expected.