Thousands of Britons face destruction of their Costa homes in Spanish government crackdown
By TOM WORDEN
Last updated at 23:15 20 March 2008
The Spanish environment ministry last year announced an ambitious £3.5billion drive to protect the country's coastline from over-development by knocking down houses built illegally close to the shore.
It insisted that there would be no widespread demolition of properties built before the relevant laws were passed.
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Demolition: Earlier this month British expats Len and Helen Prior's dream £350,000 retirement villa in Vera, Almeria, Spain, was bulldozed by authorities in a planning row
However, a campaign group set up last month to fight the government scheme yesterday revealed it already has 20,000 members whose homes are under threat.
It claimed that more than 500,000 will be affected in total.
A significant number of these are likely to be Britons, because Spain is a popular destination for UK residents taking holidays or retiring abroad.
Jose Ortega, a lawyer who heads the campaign group, the Platform for those Affected by the Coastal Law, said: "This is the single biggest assault on private property we have seen in the recent history of Spain.
"They are destroying property without any concern for the law or rights.
"This will affect more than 500,000 people who live along the coast in Spain, of whom up to 100,000 are foreigners, including tens of thousands of Britons."
Spain's 1988 Coastal Law banned building within 330ft of the shoreline. Until now homes built before the law came into force were exempt.
But the environment ministry is now targeting thousands of homes that were built before 1988, which protesters say is unfair and illegal.
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