200 people in Cuevas lose homes for a new tortoise sanctuary

200 people in the Los Lobos area of Cuevas and Murcia stand to lose all they possess as a new natural park for tortoises is shifted to avoid expropriating farmland.

The national government has been ordered by Brussels to declare a new National Park to allow the endangered local tortoise species to survive, after it ran the unnecessary and unbuilt AVE high speed trainline through the centre of their habitat. The AVE, along with the toll road between Vera and Cartagena, is expected to seriously affect the species.

However, the first location for the park has been shelved after farmers objected. Instead, Madrid has shifted the location of the park towards the coast, directly affecting some 200 people who live in farms and hamlets in the area.

But locals have not yet received any information on the project, discovering that their homes are in danger only after Ideal newspaper published the list of affected owners. The newspaper had discovered the list in the Official Bulletin of the State, not a periodical that is closely studied by local smallholders.

Two of the homes which will be demolished for the new tortoise sanctuary

The State has said that the expropriation is continuing as it always does in these matters, slowly but surely, and that local residents have been invited to express their opinions. However, locals denounce that the only local organisations sitting on the expropriation boards after the same farmer cooperatives that forced the original plans to be shelved!

Some 500 ha will be expropriated for the tortoise sanctuary.

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