Members of Mar Puro at the blocked entrance to the land. / JOSELE

First steps to evict group blocking new forest park

Marbella council wants to open a large forest park in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca, but it needs control of a key 50,000 square metres

JOAQUINA DUEÑAS MARBELLA.

The council in Marbella has issued an order to repossess 20,000 square metres of land which it now owns in a local beauty spot. Councillors want to create a major new 400,000-square-metre forest park in the Puerto Rico area, close to Sierra Blanca in the foothills of La Concha mountain overlooking the town. But before they can do this, they need to get back control of some of the land from a voluntary organisation that is using it without permission

In November last year, the council announced that it had secured a deal to buy 340,000 square metres towards the forest park project from the then owners at three million euros. However, a further 50,000 square metres in the Puerto Rico Bajo were needed to complete the project. This land is occupied by members of Mar Puro, which presents itself as a non-profit organisation and which has set up the Gaianos project, styling it as a place to reconnect with nature, animals and creativity. The area has been closed to residents walking dogs and picnicking by the group. It was also once used for the traditional roasting of chestnuts on All Saints' Day, 1 November. Locals want the return of this tradition but are barred from using the land.

Now the council has bought 20,000 square metres of the land that Mar Puro is using illegally and the long process to get an eviction has begun. The council has warned that this is a "highly complex" process, while stressing that "the aim is to make this environmentally important area, which forms part of the town's identity, available to all our local residents".

A compulsory purchase order is also being submitted separately for the other 30,000 square metres occupied by Mar Puro.