A view of Frigiliana and the land in the Sierra Almijara natural park theJunta is looking to purchase. / E. CABEZAS

Junta looks into buying private land in the Sierra Almijara natural park

The mayor of Frigiliana is keen for the sale to go ahead and is acting as mediator between the company, De la Torre SL, and the Junta

EUGENIO CABEZAS FRIGILIANA.

The Junta de Andalucía regional government is looking into the possibility of buying an area of private land in and around Frigiliana.

The company De la Torre SL has owned 2,500 hectares of the Sierra Almijara since 1930, when it acquired the area together with the Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana - now known as El Ingenio de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, the only functioning sugar cane honey factory in southern Europe.

Since 1999 this land has been entirely within the boundaries of the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama natural park, meaning the possible uses of the land are very limited.

The owners have long wanted to sell the land, which accounts for around 6.1 per cent of the total protected area; some 40,663 hectares which includes extensive pine forests, scrubland and the mountains surrounding the town centre. For this reason, Frigiliana's mayor, Alejandro Herrero, has called on the regional government to step forward and take ownership of it.

Willingness on both sides

Herrero explained to SUR that two meetings have already been held between the Junta de Andalucía and representatives of the family. "There is a willingness on both sides to reach an agreement," he said, but added that he did not know the amount of money the owners were asking for. "For Frigiliana it would be very positive, because it would mean that its natural heritage would belong to everyone, with the possibilities for the development of rural and sustainable tourism that this would entail."

Sources at the Junta de Andalucía have told this newspaper that "there is nothing yet" and that they are "listening to the owner and getting information."

The De la Torre family, made up of more than twenty shareholders, has long wanted to sell the property, whose origins date back to the Count of Frigiliana, a Spanish noble title created by King Philip IV in 1630 in favour of Íñigo Manrique de Lara, son of the fourth lord of Frigiliana, following the Reconquista.