Sunday, April 20, 2008

Eating up the land and the resources

The popularisation of golf courses in the Valencian Community didn't come from local demand but from the city-planning boom of the last decade. Along with the courses came huge urbanizations of houses with large gardens.

"El campo de golf actúa de tractor de demandas", according to the experts.

However this model of development is now being questioned partly because these golf complexes consume four to six times more water than traditional housing .

In cities, the average consumption of water in summer goes up to nine cubic metres per person per month. In urbanizations with golf courses and gardens the consumption goes up to between 25 and 40 cubic metres per person per month. In some cases, where there are extensive green areas, the consumption can be as high as 55 cubic metres.

Times have now changed. The fact that the Valencian Community is having to rely upon water from other regions to avoid restrictions puts the viability of golf urbanizations into question.

There are a hundred projected plans for golf courses according to data from May 2007. This would equate to roughly a million more houses and two million or more people consuming water.

The problem doesn't lie with the courses which are irrigated with waste water: it's the houses that accompany them. And it isn't just consumption of water. Scattered housing occupied by an aging generation of retired people also equates to a rise in pollution from cars.

A recent survey criticises the Valencian Community for its lack of cohesive planning in this respect. The location of courses is largely governed by private initiative. Public courses located close to resorts provides income for hotels etc. A course of nine holes built on land that is not suitable for agriculture close to a town therefore generates wealth without unduly increasing consumption. The report suggests that it is the "golf park" model that is no longer tenable.

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