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Spanish Village Rebuilt 2km Away To Make Way For Airport

Spanish Village Rebuilt 2km Away To Make Way For Airport

After years of hunger strikes, legal battles and marches, residents of a village in the Canary Islands have won a battle against a new runway project by persuading developers to rebuild their homes 2km away.

The residents of Ojos de Garza in the Canary Islands had been offered compensation after it was revealed that a new runway was going to be built bringing tourists in and out of the Gran Canaria Airport that would require their homes to be demolished. The majority of the 5,000 residents however refused to sell up, arguing that it would be difficult to buy new homes on the island.

Margarita Alonso, 53, who was one of the protest leaders said: "This was not about money, we didn't want money. We wanted a place to live and we didn't want to have our community torn apart."

The battle between the airport operator and residents started in 2001 when the runway was officially approved by the local government.

Under the terms of the agreement between residents and the airport management company Aena, an entirely new village, effectively a copy of the first, will be built at the new location around two kilometres away, in a deal that both airport management and locals said they were happy with.

Margarita added: "We are happy with the decision but it's been a tough fight and not without cost. People who lived here, who had quite simply had enough, were unable to move because they could not find a buyer for their properties as they were destined to be demolished. Anybody wanting to borrow money to buy a new house could not get a mortgage because their properties were worthless and banks were not prepared to lend on them. Now many people will be able to get on with their lives again."

After years of argument construction work finally started last year but then stopped again as the protest heated up. It can now start once again and is scheduled to be completed in 2025 after locals get their new village and their existing homes can be demolished.

Egidio Salinas, a resident of Ojos de Garza, said: "We have not been given a date yet for the relocation but it is like life can finally begin again, and we now know that we have a future and a future for our children."

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