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'No to the privatisation of the public river' graffiti has appeared by the Río Chíllar in Nerja. E. Cabezas
Local and environmental groups reject plans to charge access to popular Costa del Sol beauty spot
Environment

Local and environmental groups reject plans to charge access to popular Costa del Sol beauty spot

A petition has been started and graffiti has appeared as individuals and organisations voice their objection to the plans for the Río Chíllar in Nerja to be run by a private company

Eugenio Cabezas

Nerja

Tuesday, 12 March 2024, 19:18

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The Junta de Andalucía's initiative to control access and charge people to access the popular Río Chíllar beauty spot in Nerja on the eastern stretch of the Costa del Sol has been met with fierce criticism by local residents’ and environmental groups.

A petition was started on Tuesday 5 March via Change.org, initiated by a user called Aiden Rodríguez, shortly after the proposals of the three companies bidding for the contract were published. "We are initiating a vote against the proposed management of the Chíllar river, we are being affected by local people and tourists wanting to privatise access to our river. The essence of our community and free access to this natural treasure are at risk," states the text published on the Change.org website.

The news story published by SUR has also generated a great deal of debate, with numerous readers commenting that they object to the idea of paying to enter the site. However, all agree that access must be controlled.

Graffiti has also been visible in the area around the so-called Tercera Fábrica de la Luz, the site where the walking tours along the riverbed proposed by the bidding companies, Hermanos Campano, Sando and Viajes Verano Azul, would begin, and where a hydroelectric plant owned by the Sevillana-Endesa company is located.

"The time to act is now"

According to Rodríguez, "Much more is at stake than simply paying five to 12 euros per visit. We will lose the inclusive and communal essence of the river, turning it into an exclusive place for those who can afford to pay. Furthermore, access to a space that has always been open to all will be limited, negatively affecting our quality of life and wellbeing.”

The campaigner goes on to say, "The time to act is now. If we do not oppose, private management of the Chíllar River will irreversibly change our community and the enjoyment of this natural resource. Your vote is crucial to preserve the accessibility and shared beauty of this place. Acting today guarantees a future where we can all continue to enjoy the connection with nature without economic barriers, vote against the privatisation of the Chíllar River and protect our heritage.”

Protected natural enclave

Entre Cañas de Nerja, a group which works to protect Nerja’s historical and natural heritage, was very critical of the Junta's plans last December and said that the town hall should be responsible for managing it. If that wasn’t possible, the association asked that "the entrance to the river environment be permanently prohibited due to the uniqueness of the protected natural enclave". Among the reasons they argued were that public bodies "have a duty to safeguard cultural and natural heritage, using all the means at their disposal to prevent the deterioration of our environment".

In the group’s opinion, "Delegating control of the Río Chíllar to a private company demonstrates the incompetence and failure of both the Junta de Andalucía and Nerja town hall to address the problem.” The group went on to say, “The Río Chíllar has reached this situation due to excessive publicity from the municipal tourist office and national and international tourist fairs.”

Public consultation

SUR published a story last week saying that three companies had submitted bids to take over management of the popular Nerja beauty spot: Hermanos Campano S.L., from Ardales, Viajes Verano Azul S.L., from Nerja and Construcciones Sánchez Domínguez (Sando), from Malaga. A period of public consultation is open until 18 March whereby interested parties may present objections or comments on the three bids.

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