a luxury tourism project puts environmentalists in check to save the last uncrowded beach in Tenerife

It was last May 5. In Puertito de Armeñime, a small spot in the south of Tenerife that has been spared (until now) mass tourism, the first stone was laid for a project that will forever transform its little beach of blonde sand, home where specimens of loggerhead turtle and that is located next to the last two virgin beaches in the south of the island, Diego Hernández and Caleta de Adeje. Cradle of the Soul is the name of this mega urban and hotel project that aims to occupy 437,000 square meters of land with the construction of 420 luxury residences, a hotel, swimming pools, a restaurant and other buildings that will be built very close to the Caleta de Adeje Protected Natural Area , declared a Site of Scientific Interest for its landscape relevance and the flora and fauna that live there.

Sí Podemos Canarias denounces that the Cabildo de Tenerife supports the "crazy tourism project" in the port of Adeje

Sí Podemos Canarias denounces that the Cabildo de Tenerife supports the “crazy tourist project” in Puertito de Adeje

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Behind the project are two investment families from Belgium, Vandermarliere and Van Biervliet. Both have “a strong portfolio of real estate projects, both in Belgium and internationally,” the group highlighted the day the start of the works was staged.

The event was attended by the mayor of Adeje (municipality in which the complex will be located), José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga, the vice president of the Cabildo de Tenerife, Berta Pérez, the investors, Sofie Vandermarliere of the investment management holding company GT & Co and David Van Biervliet, representing Fivanco; the real estate developer co-CEO Filip Hoste, the technical director co-CEO Andrés Muñoz de Dios, and Remo Masala, creative director.

According to the group that promotes the project, in the first part of the urbanization, which has already started, 108 residences will be built, with 36 Casitas Houses (from one to four bedrooms) from 85 to 129 square meters, 32 Beach Apartments ( one to three bedrooms) from 80 to 163 square meters, 20 Valley Villas (one to four bedrooms) from 139 to 349 square meters, 18 Grand Villas (three to four bedrooms) from 432 to 650 square meters, as well as a 20,000-square-meter farm, a beach club, a restaurant, a spa and a kids’ club.

Real estate developer Filip Hoste commented that all the homes will have private terraces with swimming pools and sea views. “We will build the units with the highest quality construction and equipment. All guests will enjoy the best service, managed by a luxury operator that will be announced shortly”. In addition to the houses for tourists, the group has also acquired land to build a luxury hotel under the brand The Tais Hotels and Villas.

Sounds good, but what about the protected area (on land and in the sea), what about the town and its inhabitants? Something catches your eye. As can be seen in the recreations published by the promoters of the project, there are no parking areas or any space for public use along the coast. It has already happened on other beaches on the island: a large hotel throws sand into a ravine, builds a beautiful beach with a restaurant and hammocks, but makes it difficult to access it so that only customers can enjoy it almost exclusively.

Protests and demand for information about the project

Currently in Puertito de Armeñime there are less than twenty houses, but its beach is very popular among the population of Tenerife, not only because of the presence of turtles, but also because it is located in a sandy bay, sheltered by projections of yellow lava that they make the sea and the winds calm most of the year. Crystal clear waters and no hotel complex in sight make the place a Rare avis in the south of Tenerife, scarce in remote places that are not overcrowded and full of shops, hotels, restaurants and beach clubs.

That is why the announcement of this tourist macro-project has put environmentalists, part of the citizenry and politicians in check. The groups Salvar La Tejita, ATAN, the Telesforo Bravo-Juan Coello Foundation and the Forum Against Incineration have convened a Citizen Assembly this Saturday, May 14, on the Puertito de Adeje beach, at 5:30 p.m. (local time). ), “as a sign of the refusal of the population of Tenerife to carry out this work with which they intend to continue depredating even the last centimeter of soil in the south.”

The Telesforo Bravo Foundation has published its outright rejection of the project on social networks: “We refuse to be complicit in a tourism model where we Canarians become extras in a movie, where we also put the exteriors, the scenery, the water, the energy, the bathrooms and we take care of the waste… and the locker is taken raw by those from outside. We are not going to remain silent in the face of the systematic and continuous destruction of our only wealth: the natural heritage. Cradle of the Soul? No, a new nail in the coffin that they want to turn this Island into.”

The Tenerife Association of Friends of Nature (ATAN) has also called for protest. He assures that they have been “documenting” about this project for some time and they see themselves as “the duty to inform” the public on Saturday about what is really going to happen in that area if “this mega hotel” does not stop.

A new “urban development ball” in Tenerife

The spokesperson for Sí Podemos Canarias in the Cabildo de Tenerife, María José Belda, has publicly expressed her political group’s rejection of “the crazy tourism project with which they once again intend to destroy another coastal area of ​​our island, the Puertito de Adeje, located in an enclave close to the Caleta de Adeje Protected Natural Area, considered a Site of Scientific Interest”.

For this party “it is already good that they want to continue with urban balls to enrich the private pockets of foreign investment companies that benefit from land reclassification, at the cost of destroying one of the last natural redoubts that we still enjoy in the south of the Island”.

For this reason, the party will present a question in the next Plenary Commission of the Presidency of the Cabildo, in order to “know what the political position of the government group is regarding this new project with which they reaffirm their commitment to continue with policies unsustainable and of depredation of the territory”.

Sí Podemos is not part of the Government in the Tenerife Cabildo, but it supported the investiture pact of the socialist Pedro Martín and Ciudadanos. However, this support has jeopardized on several occasions this legislature due precisely to the Cabildo’s support for urban projects such as the construction of a new port in the south of the island (Fonsalía, permanently parked) or the construction of a train to the south of the island (also parked for now).

The tourist project in Armeñime, criticizes Sí Podemos, “shows the seams of the PSOE, who is in evidence by trying to show himself publicly as a government that watches over the territory and then poses in the photo with those who are in charge of undertaking environmental attacks that eliminate the landscapes that make us a unique land”. Furthermore, he accuses him of using the so-called greenwhasingconsisting of to sell citizens an urban project as ecological and sustainable.

Aspects that “do not add up”

One of the first to raise the alarm against this project has been Adrián Flores, an environmentalist specializing in terrestrial biodiversity and conservation in the Islands. “There are several things that do not add up to us, from the environmental and social point of view,” he tells this newspaper. In the first place, “part of the complex will be built within the La Caleta Site of Scientific Interest, a Protected Area in which its own conservation regulations establish that this type of project cannot be carried out.” In addition, “we have not been able to locate the Coasts authorization to change the ecosystem of the beach”, since “they intend to put sand and modify its environment”.

Flores recalls that the water, including that of the beach, “is part of the Teno-Rasca Special Conservation Zone”, a protected area that covers almost the entire west coast of Tenerife. “They intend to even make a mooring, for which they would also need authorization”, a document that he has not obtained either. Being located in a ravine, he explains, it would also require another permit, that of the Insular Water Council. None of these organizations has been able to find the relevant authorizations or permits.

And in addition, he denounces, sand is already being removed and protected fauna specimens have been killed, such as tabaibas and cardones. To eliminate any of these species, an express authorization from the Island Council is required.

A seaside town engulfed by a resort

The town of Puertito de Armeñime, despite the natural beauty of the surroundings, seems neglected. There are only a few houses and some land, barren farms, where you can leave your car. A small bar serves shrimp and cold beers, among other things, with no frills. A few kayaks rest by the water waiting to be rented. Everything is carried by people from there. In summer, when the heat hits, it is practically impossible to find a place to park and the edges of the ravine are filled with caravans and huts, some made with pieces of wood and rubbish. The Local Police appear from time to time on those bustling days to issue fines. Someone looks out onto the beach from the curve and warns that they are going down the road. Drivers run to retrieve their vehicles. In the water, if you are lucky, a turtle will appear swimming next to the moored boats while the sun sets behind La Gomera. It is a typical scene of any day in that place far from the hotel center of Adeje.

What will become of those houses, of the town, when those 400 villas and the hotel, the restaurant, the swimming pools and the beach club are built? Adrián Flores explains that something “striking” happened in 2019. The Adeje City Council approved a partial Urban Development Plan that affected only the area of ​​La Caleta and El Puertito. “The most remarkable thing is that the land use was changed from residential to commercial,” he says. “That opens the door for the developer to end up buying these lands and end up building cafeterias, stores, shopping centers… We are not against the town, on the contrary, what we want is to save the town, but with it is intended to do it seems that in the end the neighbors will end up leaving”, he narrates. “They have said that the town will not be touched, but the promoter itself is saying on its website that it offers a 10,000-meter private beach: that clashes with the idea of ​​not touching the town,” he explains.

Other mega projects stopped in Tenerife

This is not the first tourism or construction project (nor will it be the last) that has set off the alarms of those who consider that the island should base its development on a model other than mass tourism. The most recent of those that have been stopped was the construction of a macro-port in the south of the island, also within the Teno-Rasca Special Conservation Zone, and which collided head-on with the declaration of these waters as the only whale sanctuary of the European Union and third in the world: the Port of Fonsalia. The lack of support in the Island Council, with the outright rejection of Sí Podemos Canarias and the investiture pact in danger, meant that the idea was discarded, at least in this legislature, despite even having the support of the Government of the Canary Islands .

Before it was possible to stop, too for nowthe construction of a luxury hotel on the coast of Granadilla, specifically, on the last great virgin beach on the island: the tile. Since June 2020 there has been an order from the Ministry for the Ecological Transition to stop the works, since they invaded the maritime-terrestrial public domain and its protection easement zone.

Now a new front is opening up for the island’s environmental groups, who are watching with concern how a new multi-million dollar tourism project sets its sights on the natural landscape of the island, and not to admire it, but to sell and exploit it.

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