EU steps into murky marshes

Monte Pego res­i­dents sum­moned to Brus­sels

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Skett@cbnews.es

A MONTE Pego res­i­dent group has been sum­moned to Brus­sels af­ter the Euro­pean Union Pe­ti­tions Com­mit­tee agreed to in­ves­ti­gate on­go­ing sewage leaks into the neigh­bour­ing wet­lands.

The As­so­ci­a­tion Pro Monte Pego (PMP) pe­ti­tioned the EU last sum­mer about leaks in a waste wa­ter plant owned by the de­vel­oper which no­body would take re­spon­si­bil­ity for.

A 17-year dis­pute be­tween Pego coun­cil and de­vel­oper Monte Pego, S.A., about whose job it is to fin­ish off the ur­ban­i­sa­tion, means both par­ties pass the buck when­ever pub­lic in­fras­truc­ture goes wrong.

The de­vel­oper claims it asked the coun­cil to link the plant to the ur­ban­i­sa­tion 17 years ago and had to go to court to get them to do so, and is now try­ing to re­cover its costs.

Monte Pego S.A. says the leak­age 'is clean wa­ter and does not pol­lute' the Mar­jal wet­lands, that the open valve in the plant is 'van­dal­ism' rather than lack of main­te­nance, and blames home­own­ers for 'drain­ing their pools into the mains with­out per­mis­sion' for 'over­load­ing the sewage plant'.

Mean­while, the coun­cil says Monte Pego, S.A. is re­spon­si­ble for solv­ing the four-litres-a-sec­ond hu­man-waste leak into the na­ture re­serve as the plant be­longs to the com­pany.

EU gath­ers ev­i­dence and reaches ver­dict

Since PMP con­tacted Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neers from Brus­sels have been gath­er­ing ev­i­dence on site and analysing wa­ter sam­ples.

Now, they have reached a ver­dict, which has not yet been re­vealed.

It will be ex­plained in full to PMP rep­re­sen­ta­tives in per­son.

The as­so­ci­a­tion hopes the EU will rule in its favour and force the coun­cil's hand.

Tests car­ried out by PMP and by an­other res­i­dents' group, the Ve­ci­nos de la Mon­taña de Pego As­so­ci­a­tion, have al­ready shown the wa­ter con­tains sev­eral types of bac­te­ria present in hu­man poo which are toxic to peo­ple, an­i­mals and plants.

“Hav­ing the courage to con­front in­jus­tice is never easy; per­versely, the of­ten long and dif­fi­cult jour­ney makes as many en­e­mies as friends, and the temp­ta­tion to give up be­comes strong,” says PMP spokesman An­ton Leest.

He speaks of 'hard lessons learnt', in­clud­ing find­ing out 'those who hold the power... de­fend the in­de­fen­si­ble' and that the le­gal sys­tem can 'cloud rather than clar­ify is­sues'.

Home­own­ers' cash held by town hall

As yet, nei­ther as­so­ci­a­tion has been given any up­date on the le­gal bat­tle be­tween the coun­cil and the de­vel­oper, so they have no idea when, or if, they will ever be given the ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties and main­te­nance and re­pair ser­vices they need.

Yet own­ers have been pay­ing taxes to Pego coun­cil for 17 years.

And those who have paid large sums held by the coun­cil in es­crow ac­counts are wait- ing for their money back.

They are un­clear if the prac­tice is le­gal, but cer­tainly con­sider it cheeky that the town hall re­quests ad­di­tional funds be­fore award­ing plan­ning per­mis­sion to villa-own­ers 'in case the de­vel­oper does not fin­ish the ur­ban­i­sa­tion' – even though the home­own­ers thought they had al­ready paid for the miss­ing in­fras­truc­ture when they bought their houses.

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