“WHATEVER happens, we will appeal against the Balearic ministry of the environment's decision,” Palma city councillor José Maria Rodríguez said yesterday. The decision in question is about the fate of the 100-year-old pine trees in Palma's Plaza Porta de Santa Catalina, where the council wants to build a car park for 280 vehicles. Neighbours have been fighting the project and the ministry is debating whether or not to declare the trees “unique,” which means that they would be saved. Rodriguez said that the ministry had given itself an additional period of six months in which to study the matter and listen to objections. He described this as inacceptable. He added that the council would go to court because, no matter what happens, “we will have lost a year. There have been serious losses for the building firm contracted, for the city's car parks department and for the council itself.” He claimed that the law was being used unjustly, to put difficulties in the way of a municipal project. He went on to say that plans for the car park had been posted twice for public inspection and not one objection was lodged. It was after that, he said, that environmental group GOB asked for the trees to be declared unique, and the ministry opened its case file after construction of the car park had actually started. If the case goes to court, it will be the judges who decide if the trees are unique or not, and if they are, whether or not the ministry will be liable to pay compensation to the council and the company contracted to build the car park.

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