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Stubborn shepherd kills off luxury golf courses

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Stubborn shepherd kills off luxury golf courses
"I've never studied, I can't read or write, but no one will fool me," says 60-year-old shepherd Pascual Carrión. Photo:Buscavientos/Flickr
17:13 CEST+02:00
An illiterate shepherd from a small town in southern Spain has stopped a giant building project from going ahead after a ten-year-long legal battle to protect his land.

Sixty-year-old Pascual Carrión will finally be able to live in peace after Jumilla Town Hall closed the appeal window for a building project which, if approved, would have cost him his 30-hectares of land.

"I've not won anything, apart from peace of mind," Carrión told Spanish daily El Confidencial.

"I'm left with my land and the heart problems that have arisen from all the stress.”

Carrión first became aware of the plans to build a 15,000 home residential complex around two brand-new golf courses when electricity company Iberdrola inexplicably put up a high-tension power line through his land in 2002.

"I knew there was something going on behind the scenes even then," he told El Confidencial.

The elderly shepherd’s complaints about the five high-voltage towers erected on his property fell on deaf ears.

Iberdrola, which had the support of Francisco Abellan -Jumilla's socialist mayor at the time – had actually diverted the electricity line so that it wouldn't pass through the planned gold courses.

Soon building contractors for the Santa Ana del Monte Jumilla-Golf complex were offering Carrión €2.6 million ($3.5 million) for his land.

Iberdrola also attempted to buy the farmer's silence by offering him €30,000 to turn a blind eye to the high tension towers.

The shepherd was having none of it though, having already witnessed how his neighbours were waiting in vain for the millions they were owed for the properties they'd sold.

He turned instead to the courts, spending more than €30,000 of his own money to take the matter before a judge with the official technical reports at hand.

Murcia's High Court ruled against Carrión, alleging that San José Inversiones' giant building project should prevail because the town’s general interests mattered more than his as an individual.

Carrión then took the case to Murcia's Supreme Court in 2010.

This time the judge ruled in favour of his argument that there wasn't enough water in Jumilla to supply an extra 20,000 people.

"I don't even give my herd any water from the local well because it’s so saline," Carrión told El Confidencial.

In the three years since that hearing, the developer has gone into pre-bankruptcy proceedings.

The 60-year-old shepherd has witnessed how 800 people — mainly English expats, locals say — have been left waiting to find out whether their down payments in the stalled project would be repaid.

"It's embarrassing to see what’s happened to all these foreigners and how they are accusing Spaniards of being shameless when most of us are honest," Carrión argues.

He at least feels satisfied with how his ten-year-long legal battle has turned out.

"I'll die at peace having fought for what’s mine and the truth.

"I've never studied, I can't read or write, but no one will fool me."

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