JIMENA Ten years ago next month, it was announced that an Irish Businessman, Robert Noonan, was planning to build an airport just outside Jimena de la Frontera, or possibly in Castellar. There was as much support for the idea as there was for its rejection. Environmentalists on one side, Council and employment needs on the other. After a push-me-pull-you three years the idea fell for matters environmental. Before that, it all seemed to be sewn up. Noonan estimated an investment of €36m and 2 million passengers by 2015, who chose Jimena instead of an overwhelmed Málaga airport. Joint use of the Gibraltar airport was a pipe dream back then, too.COMING SOON:
Environmentalists began a campaign that was backed by a large proportion of the population, but there was something strange going on. With hindsight it looks today as though the 'project' was no more than an excuse to be able to create yet another urbanization on the land at Barría, one of the few flat kilometers in the area.
In any case, the airport at Jerez is a viable alternative to Málaga for the Campo De Gibraltar, especially with the then-new Los Barrios to Jerez road.
The environmentalists won
An impact report cited the following facts, among plenty of others: birds of a variety of species flew over the area at a rate of 17.6 per hour per square kilometre; 80% of them fly below 200 metres high, compromising flight paths and aircraft impact possibilities. Bad idea.
The site is on a flood plane, making it expensive to build there, non-viable, and as possibly dangerous. Bad idea.
But Jimena -or better, Noonan- had a Plan B: the creation of an industrial estate on the same site as the rejected airport. This never happened either.
Noonan went on to begin construction on a golf resort in San Pablo, a few kilometres up the road from his projected airport. That was never finished either.
Back on the books
But ten years later, the possibility for an airport for the Campo de Gibraltar is back in the news. The Plan de Ordenación Territorial (POT, a document that is used to guide future planning) includes an airport somewhere in the area, though it doesn't specify where exactly.
Back in the 1980s, the idea was put about that an aerodrome might be possible at the Pzos de Mrajambú, in Castellar.
Our environmentalist sources say that wherever it might be 'planned' it would be 'politically and socially disastrous.'