SEO sees Las Vegas II project incompatible with Los Monegros

SEO sees Las Vegas II mega-casino project completely environmentally incompatible with the conservation of Los Monegros steppes, one of the most important natural areas in Aragon. (SEO)

8 Responses to “SEO sees Las Vegas II project incompatible with Los Monegros”

  1. naomi says:

    And this is Greenpeace Spain’s opinion on the project:

    Greenpeace critica este nuevo proyecto en un entorno ciertamente frágil.
    A pesar de su apariencia desértica y yerma se da la circunstancia,
    este fragmento de la cuenca del Ebro, de mucho menos del 1 por ciento de
    toda la superficie peninsular contiene en torno al diez por ciento de
    toda la biodiversidad ibérica. Pero con toda la importancia de este dato
    contrastado, ni siquiera es el elemento fundamental para bautizar a la
    biocenosis monegrina como extraordinaria. El índice de novedades es
    apabullante. Casi 200 nuevas especies para la ciencia en un periodo de
    apenas 5 años en una misma zona o región es un récord no superado en la
    vieja Europa.

    En general los proyectos de esta magnitud, independientemente de la
    ubicación seleccionada, implican un impacto ambiental grave y difícil de
    compatibilizar. Pero en las proximidades de un espacio natural de
    importancia mundial como son Los Monegros es absolutamente inviable
    ambientalmente. Los Monegros es una de las comarcas esteparias más
    importantes del continente desde el punto de vista de la biodiversidad.

    Además, Greenpeace critica la doble moral del Gobierno Aragonés quien
    lucho junto con los grupos ecologistas contra el trasvase del Ebro, con
    la excusa de salvar el río y el Delta. Sin embargo, ahora no tiene
    ningún reparo en plantear un proyecto como este totalmente insostenible
    gran demandante de agua y recursos.

  2. naomi says:

    To join the protest you need to get in touch with the stopgranscala group, based in Fraga (Huesca). On the 31st of jan they were going to present a protest letter together with a petition in Zaragoza. Their mail is foroopinionmontanuy@gmail.com.

  3. nick says:

    The Guardian’s take on the story
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/spain/article/0,,2227982,00.html

    In the Spanish desert, a rival to Las Vegas

    · €17bn casino complex expects 25m visitors a year
    · Site should be a protected nature reserve, say critics

    Europe’s largest casino complex, second in the world behind Las Vegas, is to be built in one of the driest regions of Spain, with the project’s investors saying they hope to attract 25 million visitors a year.
    Gran Scala will eventually contain 32 casinos, 70 hotels, 232 restaurants and 500 shops, alongside replicas of Egyptian pyramids and Roman temples. There will even be a copy of the Pentagon – which will serve as a hotel in Spyland, a theme park dedicated to all things 007. And, because this is Spain, there will be a bullring.

    The complex will be built on 2,000 hectares (4,943 acres) of steppe in Los Monegros, Aragón. Developers say it will open by 2015. The British-based consortium, International Leisure Development (ILD), settled on east Spain after plans to build in Dubai and France fell through. Millions of euros are being spent on nearby Zaragoza, improving its transport connections in time for next year’s World Expo, making it the ideal location, according to ILD.
    The regional government gave the go-ahead to the €17bn (£12.1bn) Gran Scala, arguing that the site is desert, where nothing grows, and that it is ripe for construction.

    But Greenpeace disagrees. It accuses the Aragón government of dishonesty in the way it has presented the project, arguing that the land is a rich nature reserve that should be protected, not built upon.

    “Los Monegros is a place of great natural biodiversity, with a huge range of species from Africa and Asia that have been very well conserved over the last five million years,” said Julio Barea of Greenpeace. “In the last five years alone, 200 new species have been discovered there.

    “In any other country, it would be a national park, strictly protected. What the politicians in Aragón are doing is shameful – telling voters that there is nothing there worth protecting, when it is in fact a zone rich in animal and plant life.”

    The comparison with Las Vegas is more apt than the developers realise, said Barea. The demands of the casinos, hotels and houses in Las Vegas are causing the Colorado river to run dry. “Over here, in one of the driest regions of Spain, where will we get all the water to supply Gran Scala?”

    ILD and the local government deny the complex will cause environmental damage. At the launch of the project in Zaragoza this week, the vice-president of the region, José Angel Biel, said: “This is a very important day for Aragón. Gran Scala is a great hope … We couldn’t let the opportunity pass.”

    It believes that the projected 25 million visitors a year, 80% of whom are expected to come from outside Spain, will bring in €600m in taxes annually for the region.

    Central government could also receive around €1bn in tax a year thanks to a relaxing of gambling regulations this year.

    Zaragoza airport is a hub in the low-cost air network, and only two-hours’ flight from Stansted airport, north of London. ILD hopes to attract millions of Britons each year, particularly as the prime minister, Gordon Brown, has put plans for a super-casino in Manchester on hold.

    But many believe the projected number of visitors for Gran Scala is wildly exaggerated, representing half of the total number of people who visit Spain each year. In Aragón, the leftwing party Izquierda Unida (IU) is leading the opposition to the casino complex, worried not just by the potential environmental damage but also the glorification of mass consumerism and Las Vegas-style gambling.

    “I do not understand what is happening,” said Adolfo Barrena, the general coordinator of IU in Aragón. “We appear to be the spoilsports but we believe this plan is a disaster.”

    ILD is unable to give the exact location of Gran Scala as the land has yet to be bought.

  4. nick says:

    The Iberianature forum has picked up this story with more out links
    http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,1020.0.html

  5. nick says:

    Hi Jordi, I’ll post your comments on the forum and see if we can find a petition
    Cheers
    Nick

  6. nick says:

    Insightful comments Simon. I hadn’t thought of that (“handy place to invest thier spare dosh”
    And I guess we’ll be seeing more of such schemes as the money runs from construction.

  7. Simon says:

    I was amazed when I saw this project discussed on the TV3 news. I would have thought reconstructing a ‘Las vegas’ ANYWHRE would be an environmetal disaster, let alone a fragile place like Los Monegos!
    It was curious and telling that the news feature was part of the financial round-up. I wonder if the promotors of this scheme are just looking for a handy place to invest thier spare dosh (usually raised from innocent/naive José Publico) now that the bottom has fallen out of more conventional property speculation?

  8. Jordi says:

    Hi all,

    A quick word to say I can’t believe it the local government is going to go ahead with this horrible project. Not only the whole thing is terrible for the environment but also according to the papers they expect thousands of people -gamblers I’d say- each year who I presume are going to either fly over or drive round to get there. How bad is that?

    Does anybody know whether there’s a web site set up to sign against it?

    Thank you,
    jordi

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