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Three appeals, supporting Playa del Inglés water park project, admitted for hearings by the Spanish Supreme Court

Three appeals, supporting Playa del Inglés water park project, admitted for hearings by the Spanish Supreme Court

Spain’s Supreme Court has admitted for processing three appeals against a Canary Islands High Court (TSJC) judgment that declared void the approvals granted by the Government of the Canary Islands for the El Veril Plan for Modernisation, Improvement and Increased Competitiveness. This territorial organisation document serves as a legal umbrella to facilitate the installation of the long-touted and beleaguered Siam Park water park attraction, in the southern tourism resort area Playa del Inglés.  If built, say the promoters, it would be the biggest waterpark in all Europe.

Specifically, Spain’s highest court admitted the appeals presented by the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands (regional government), the Insular Water Council (CIA) and the Cabildo de Gran Canaria who are all in opposition to the Canary Islands High Court (TSJC) decision that declared the Plan no longer valid, arguing that it lacked the mandatory CIA report on the existence of the required water resources.

The still empty plot at the main entry point to Playa del Inglés

The order issued by the First Section of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court, on October 14, explains that the objective cassational interest for the formation of jurisprudence, by which it admits three appeals against the sentence, “consists in determining whether the report issued by the CIA on the occasion of the granting of the concession for occupation of the riverbed” complies or not with the Land Law (Ley del Suelo).

The high court judgment in question, made by the TSJC, on ​​December 16, 2020, ordered the El Veril Modernisation Plan annulled, having considered that the report in the proceedings “does not meet the minimum substantive requirements in relation to the existence and current sufficiency of water resources to meet the new demands derived from the Plan”.

These demands include not only those of the leisure theme park promoted in the South by the Grupo Loro Parque, but also those of a new hotel, right next to Siam Park Gran Canaria at the eastern end of the site, envisioned in the Modernisation Plan, as well as the requirements of cafés and restaurants, among other services that would be required.

San Bartolomé de Tirajana town council, also announced an appeal against the sentence, which has left the long suffering Siam Park project in urban limbo, but in the end they did not appear before the Supreme Court.

Wolfgang Kiessling, president of Grupo Loro Parque

An investment of between €80-100 million
The cancellation of the El Veril Plan has slowed down, once again, the project planning to build the water park, promoted by the Kiessling family who own Loro Parque and Siam Park on Tenerife, which represents an investment of €80+ million for the water park itself, providing for the creation of 600 jobs, as well as an estimated €20m+ that would be required to build a new hotel. Without the Plan, the southern Town Council have not been able grant the mandatory building license.

Ex-mayor of San Bartolomé de Tirajana

The previous mayor, (PP), and his administration have been criticised for repeated “foot dragging” during the initial parts of the project, first announced nearly 15 years ago, and which was due to begin at the end of 2014, but has been continually hampered by objections and court cases from others opposed, including some ecologists, and a group involving at least one advisor to a rival water park company. All objections were eventually thrown out, after several court cases.  

The project itself has had the backing of every institution involved, including Regional Government, Island Council and various other entities, including the archaeologists called in to assess a small cluster of pre-hispanic remains found at the site (judged to be of very low importance, consisting mainly of seashells, and then incorporated into the plans)

The Spanish Supreme Court will now look specifically at whether or not, in its opinion, the Canary Islands High Court has correctly interpreted the law, and the requirements, which lead it to nullify the planning document on which the whole project rests.  If the high court ruling is overturned on appeal, that would, at last, open the way for project to begin, then it will just be a case of whether Loro Parque still have the momentum to bring their financial investments in to this back to the table.

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