'Ecomonster' tamed: Environmentalists celebrate as unfinished hotel is demolished on Sicilian beach

20 year-battle to remove huge complex became ugly symbol of Italy's problem with illegal building 


Italy's environmentalists this week hailed a major victory in their battle with the abusive property constructors whose ugly buildings blight the country's coastline.

Campaigners cracked open the prosecco as the bulldozers were finally sent in to demolish the "Ecomonster" built on one of Sicily's most beautiful beaches at Scala dei Turchi near Agrigento.

In the 20 year-battle to have it removed the huge, unfinished hotel complex became an ugly symbol of Italy's problem with illegal building. 

Andrea Carandini, the president of the Italian Environment Fund, said:  "It's with great joy that we watch the demolition of the ecomonster at Scala dei Turchi. Finally there's concrete action to repair the degradation in line with obligations to the European Landscape Convention." 

The other national environmental group Legambiente, which first complained about the ecomonster at Scala dei Turchi, also hailed its "symbolic" demolition. The group first challenged the building's constructors in 1990, sparking a protracted legal battle, that left the 6000-cubic meter concrete shell blighting the beach for nearly 23 years.

Mimmo Fontana, the president of Legambiente's Sicilian arm said: "The real news is that the demolition marks a reversal. We are delighted not only because we've battled for so many years to return this wonderful beach to its natural beauty, but because what happened shows that slowly attitudes are finally changing." He said prosecutors and local authorities now appeared more willing to take on abusive developers.

But the organisation warned there were still thousands more illegal structures to be dealt with.

Hideous concrete monsters sprout up to despoil some of Italy's most beautiful coast and countryside with depressing regularity. In one victory of sorts, four people were arrested in 2011 in connection with the illegal construction of the eight-storey "ecomonster" at Sant'Agata in Puglia.

And last October another notorious ecomonster, in the Circeo national park in the Lazio region, was demolished after years of campaigning. 

But not all the abusive buildings are so large or attract so much attention. Legambiente said the illegal construction -- of mostly smaller properties -- was on the rise, with 26,500 built illicitly in 2010.

Illegal and shoddily constructed homes, using poor quality cement, are also a danger to their occupants - often being prone to collapse. This was the case with the student dormitory that subsided during the 2009 L'Acquila earthquake, killing eight students.

Since the beginning of June 2013, Legambiente has identified five new illegal constructions in restricted areas of natural beauty with high seismic risk.

Enrico Fontana, Legambiente's spokesman on environmental and organised crime said that as a result of constant abusive construction "parks and countryside and other places an area the size of 540 soccer pitches has been stolen" was stolen in 2010 alone.

Legambiente recently issued three key demands to deal with the blight of ecomonsters on Italy's coastlines and elsewhere.

It is calling for the demolition  -- at the owner's expense  -- of abusive  buildings; closer satellite monitoring of the worse affected areas; and the creation of a special police task force to deal withthe problem.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

Recruitment Genius: Associate Sales Consultant

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Associate Sales Consultant i...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot