THE central government promised to halt plans to commandeer 500 hectares of Cuevas del Almanzora land for tortoises.
The tortoises’ natural habitat will be disturbed once work resumes on the Almeria-Murcia AVE high speed train. Madrid proposed to re-home them on prime residential and agricultural land.
Eleven homes, agricultural buildings, a campsite, rural properties, a quarry, polytunnels, and thousands of citrus trees in Los Lobos, Los Guiraos and Guazamara would have been affected and families would have lost the homes where they were born.
Representatives of the 276 people whose lives would have been blown apart recently accompanied local politicians to put their case to the ministry.
There were equally suitable alternative areas, they argued. The ministry of Public Works has had second thoughts and agreed to consider installing the tortoises in La Capellania, an area where neither homes nor agricultural land will be affected, so long as this meets the regional government’s approval.
Finances as much as the human element could have finally swayed the ministry.
Shifting the tortoises from out of the path of the AVE will now cost €10 million of public money, against the €20 million that the previous plan would have entailed.