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The project to build a Paramount-branded theme park in Murcia, Spain has received a blow, after ecologists claimed that a fifth of the proposed site should be protected from development.

Murcia Today reports that the Ecologists in Action group has proposed that 35 hectares of land, comprising 21% of the planned site for the park, be given protected status. However, the Mayor of Alhama de Murcia has rejected the group's claims, which will be considered by the regional government.

The planned theme park will sit on 0.74 million square metres of land, with a further 1 million square metres being used to create an adjacent hotel, restaurant, entertainment and business district. Unlike Paramount Parks, the firm's previous theme park venture (which was sold to Cedar Fair in 2006), the new park will be owned and operated entirely by outside investors. Paramount Pictures' involvement will be limited to licensing intellectual properties for use in attractions, and to providing "conceptual masterplanning and design" for the project.

The theme park and adjoining facilities could create as many as 20,000 jobs in employment-starved Murcia in south-east Spain. It is hoped that the €1 billion investment in constructing the park and seven accompanying hotels will be rewarded by attracting 3 million visitors each year.

The planned park would provide a boon for the struggling Spanish economy, and would provide a consolation prize for a country that missed out on becoming the home for Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris) two decades ago. However, even at 3 million visitors a year the Paramount park would operate on a much smaller scale than Disney's resort, which attracted 15.3 million guests in 2009.

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