Serious reservations about tortoise reserve

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Photo: Jose Guerrero Rodriguez
GUAZAMARA: Likely to be affected by Madrid plan

ARE tortoises more important than people? Land and property owners in Cuevas del Almanzora who face compulsory purchase orders so that tortoises can have a home do not think so.
The Almeria-Murcia AVE high speed railway line will affect the tortoises’ natural habitat so the central government plans to set aside 500 hectares of expropriated land as a nature reserve for them.
Although the exact details have yet to be announced, the reserve will affect more than 500 hectares of Cuevas del Almanzora land between Los Lobos, Muleria, El Largo, Guazamara and the motorway, according to sources quoted in the local Spanish press.
The current plan affects 11 homes, eight agricultural buildings, five old country properties, two polytunnels and thousands of citrus trees.
Families risk losing the homes they have occupied all their lives as well as their way of life and sources of income, locals complained. There are other options and large expanses of virgin land inside the municipality which would be equally suitable for the displaced tortoises, they said.
The town hall will take every step within its power to halt the compulsory purchase orders, pledged Cuevas del Almanzora mayor Antonio Fernandez Liria. The central government has neither assessed the environmental impact of the AVE on the tortoises, nor has it come to any agreement with the people whose way of life is likely to be shattered by the expropriations.
“The town hall intends to present an alternative project that will not affect residents while safeguarding the tortoises’ habitat,” Fernandez Liria said.

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