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Giant tourism scheme moves ahead

One of Europe’s largest and most important tourism schemes has taken a significant step forward with approvals granted last week. The scheme is known as the Marina de Cope and it covers a huge area south of the coastal town of Águilas in Murcia. The vast development will involved 21 million square metres of land and is estimated to cost about 4 billion Euros to complete.

Environmentalists are opposed to the ambitious project but the Murcia regional government, which is behind the Cope development, argues that it is in fact an environmentally-friendly idea. The construction density will be very low, it says with the figure standing at 0.14 square metres per square metre. By planning future development properly and including rigorous requirements as to zoning supervision, re-cycling and waste disposal, and the government can be sure that the highest standards are met, it is claimed.

The design has been prepared by major international firms with extensive experience around the world of preparing high quality low-impact developments. A feature of the plan is that, though the project is close to the coast, the majority of buildings will be set well back and there will be no construction within 500 metres of the sea. The actual coastline itself will be unaffected and will remain in its original condition. This is achieved by having a single canal which gives access into an inland network of moorings grouped into separate lagoons. It is forecast that there will be a total of 2,000 moorings available eventually.

The Marina de Cope will see a tram system running north to south along the development thus, reducing the need for vehicles and for parking areas. Access will be easy from the new Vera motorway and Murcia’s new airport at Corvera in expected to be only 30 or 40 minutes drive away when it opens in a few years time.

It is expected that the development will feature some 20 hotels an about 9000 houses for leisure use. There will be 5 golf courses, 10 football fields, the marina and a congress centre. A polo centre is also a possibility.

The government says that the intention that the Cope development will be in the same league as high class resort areas of places such as Cannes and Nice. The development is taking place in an area that is under the responsibilities of the town halls of Lorca and Aguilas and last week local councils in both places voted in favour of the project, allowing planning and other work to move ahead. The project is classified as being an official regional project of the Murcia Comunidad Autonoma. There is opposition however with left wing parties voicing their concerns. The PP which is strongly behind the scheme and which controls the regional government says that Cope is the major tourism project of Murcia and that it will significantly contribute to developing economic activity throughout the region and particularly in Águilas. A left wing opponent however, described the go-ahead decisions as another step in the destruction of the last remaining areas of virgin coastline in the Mediterranean.

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