In 2003, the Valencia regional government had set up 500-metre-wide protection perimeters around the natural parks of Salinas de Santa Pola, La Mata-Torrevieja natural park and El Hondo de Elche y Crevillent , subject to restrictions on use. Now known as ‘impact cushioning' areas, these protection zones were created to limit any negative effects that activities within them may have on the adjacent wetlands.
Several companies tried to fight the ruling in 2004 but it was upheld by the regional supreme court (TSJCV). The companies appealed the decision and the TS has now ruled that such a periphery protection zone can only be established around parks defined by the state law on the ‘conservation of natural spaces and flora and fauna'. The south Alicante wetlands were defined by a decree of the regional government and so do not qualify, the court stated. The sentence cites the original declaration of La Mata-Torrevieja natural park in December 1996, which did not originally include protected perimeter areas.
The ecological group, Ecologistas en Acción, argues that these areas should remain protected from builders and add that there should be a green corridor set up between the parks to provide fauna with a safe route to reach similar habitats and move to new habitats.