As I wrote this week’s news I came across two items on the 200-year-old Pinar del Rey in San Roque. On one hand the government in Madrid wants to drive a motorway through the 338 hectare protected green zone and then the regional government in Sevilla intends to include it as a Puerta Verde for the enjoyment of local people. Sadly the two ideas do not sit happily together.
For its part the environmental group Verdemar says its protests will continue over the plans to build a new stretch of the A-7 through the heavily wooded zone of the Pinar del Rey, an ecological gem with valuable water aquifers.
The main purpose of the road is to improve access to the port in Algeciras and the bay zone. Whilst Verdemar recognizes that the port is of major economic importance to the region it argues it cannot be seen in isolation. Its existence has to be balanced with the wider needs of the Campo de Gibraltar and its residents and these are not best served by the destruction of the environment.
If the road goes ahead then the noise from the traffic will be heard throughout the higher parts of the Pinar woodland. In addition fumes from the vehicles will damage the environment and trees in that zone. Furthermore the pillars needed to support the road will cause irreversible harm to the aquifer of the Fuente de la Alhaja.
Hence Verdemar is calling for the project to be dropped and says it will mount protests till that objective is achieved. I for one will support them in this action and I know many other residents both in the Campo de Gibraltar and Gibraltar itself feel the same way. I suspect the officials at San Roque’s tourist office must be tearing their hair out as this most beautiful and unspoilt part of the municipality faces destruction.
So it is ironic that at the same time as the Pinar faces the threat of the new A-7 the regional government’s Cádiz environment delegation is proposing it should be included in a new green corridor, the Puerta Verde of San Roque.
It would cover an area of 10.7 kilometres running from the Puerta Verde of La Línea, the Molino de Fuego to the Pinar del Rey. The idea is it should be a leisure zone for local people at weekends and during the holiday periods.
The project comes in two phases and the delegation wants the nearly 700,000 euros scheme to be operational in 2010 and would include a footbridge over the present A-7.
The objective of this praise worthy scheme is to create a car free zone, where the environment and scenic beauty is preserved and that would act as a break on urban development. Indeed the very things that the A-7 motorway through the Pinar del Rey would destroy because it is also feared that in its wake would come construction projects as the protected wood is opened up.
It is important that the people of the Campo de Gibraltar stand up to protect the Pinar del Rey. In an area where black lungs and cancer deaths are all too frequent thanks to the heavy industry it is vital that this green lung is preserved. If the Pinar dies – then so too does a part of us, literally!