THE Council of Majorca voted yesterday to give permanent protection from development to the scenic spot at Es Guix near Lluc Monastery and to call a halt to any applications to build on rural land anywhere on the island.

The Council's President, Francina Armengol described it as a “historic day” in terms of protection for Majorcan territory as there had been 480 hectares of land earmarked for a change of planning legislation, and therefore, for development.

Land at the beauty spot at Es Guix in the municipality of Escorca had already been classified as “urban” in anticipation of a housing complex being built there but the spot is in the Tramuntana mountains, currently under consideration by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Not everyone shared Armengol's joy yesterday. Escorca's Mayor, Antoni Gomez said that the declassification of land at Son Guix - the only area in the municipality which could have been eligible for development - was one of the “greatest injustices” committed in the Balearic Islands. He said that the people in Escorca now have nowhere at all to build homes and businesses and means that young people will be forced to abandon the area when the time comes to find a property of their own in which to live.

Gomez said that the Council of Majorca's decision yesterday has affected the rights of the people of Escorca so deeply that he is going to pursue the matter through the courts.

During the debate on the permanent protection of the scenic spot at Es Guix, the Partido Popular (PP) Councillor, Antonia Perello suggested that the only reason that the Council had wanted to stop the housing development was to prevent a much wider building project taking place there. Perello said that her party had already rejected the larger scheme and suggested that the original “urban” classification remain in exchange for a minimal housing development.

But the Council instead decided to permanently protect the site by reclassifying the land as rural and agreeing to the construction of “the occasional family-sized home.” The voting was carried through with the support of the Majorcan Unionist Party.