The unfinished resort in the Vall Fosca (western Catalan Pyrenees), is a development project stopped since 2008 when the firm that was in charge went bankrupt, at the time that major consequences of the financial crisis affecting Europe, particularly the south, started to appear.
The Vall Fosca Mountain Resort was a construction project (1,085 new apartments) connected to the development of a tourism resort that included a new ski station (that in a second phase would link itself to another ski resort, Boí Taüll), a 9-hole golf course and other establishments devoted to services (catering and commercial, sport facilities, conference room, spa) designed to increase the frequency and length of visitors beyond the winter months.
The initial public announcement of the project in 2001 by local authorities provoked controversy. From the beginning, Vallfosca Mountain Resort project was supported by a part of the local residents, the town council of la Torre de Cabdella, the county council and the head of the Department of Trade, Consumer Affairs and Tourism. Arguments in favour defended that it was the best economic alternative possible for a highly depopulated territory where most of the stock-breeding and related activities had already disappeared. On the other hand, some local residents together with regional EJOs opposed the project. Their reasons were based on the speculative and highly agressive character of the development as well as its affectations to the local environment including sites of acknowledged value.
With respect to the groups against, the Vall Fosca Activa platform was set up by local residents. The platform was backed by different environmental groups, like DEPANA, IPCENA, Mountain Wilderness, Rururbans-Pallars or Salvem Pedra. They adopted a skeptical attitude towards the project’s potential for generating local resources and dealing with depopulation. For them, the result would be an unbalanced situation motivated by an excessive growth of urban centres (Espui would multiply its population by 100), the reduction of agrarian land, an increase in land prices, the growth of empty second residences, etc. The speculative character of the whole operation focused on "macro-tourism" at the expense of enriching the local agrarian livelihoods had been denounced by these groups insistently (Barrachina 2007).
Despite the opposition, the regional government gave the green light to the project. However, environmental associations appealed the project approval by the Catalan Department for Environment on the basis that the development was going to affect the mountain of Filia, an area of conservation interest. The appeal was nevertheless rejected in 2005 by the Catalan High Court.
The project was divided into three basic actions: the ski resort in the mountain of Filià, the residential and hotel development in the town of Espui and the golf course. After its approval, construction progressed starting in 2004. With regard to the resort, infrastructure related to the power supply and the water catchment for the possible manufacture of artificial snow was built and additionally the track for the cable car that will eventually get there from Espui was completed. Besides, the golf course was finished in 2005, while apartment construction went on.
Also in 2005, the FADESA group bought the company that was developing the project (Vall Fosca Interllacs). As a result of the housing crisis that started in 2008 the company declared bankruptcy stopping the works and leaving the project half finished. So far, no company has taken over and the damaged inflicted in the Filia Mountain (a protected area under the Pla d'Espais d'Interes Natural figure, Plan for Spaces of Natural Interest in English) has not been restored. The opposition believes that the local authorities should have forced the company to pay a deposit that could have been used to restore the damage caused.