New Zealander fights to keep Italy paradise isle

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The paradise isle of Budelli lies off the coast of Sardinia. Photo: Luca Guidicatti/Flickr
10:09 CET+01:00
A businessman from New Zealand, who paid €2.94 million for an island off the coast of Sardinia in October, is fighting to keep it after the Italian government moved to buy the paradise isle back.

Michael Harte, a banker for Australia’s Commonwealth Bank, has asked Italy’s Environment Minister, Andrea Orlando, to intervene after the Senate moved to reclaim the island, which forms part of the Maddalena archipelago, for €3 million, Sardinia Post reported.

In a letter to Orlando, Harte suggested the money would be better spent on conservation projects in collaboration with privately-owned businesses.

“Spending €3 million of public money on an island that is already super-protected is not in the interest of Italians,” said Harte.

He pointed out that no private owner of the island has ever damaged the island’s rich environmental assets.

“I hope minister Orlando will intervene: public and private interests can co-exist and work together if the goal is common,” added Harte, who has pledged to preserve the island’s rich ecology.

He has already put together a team of experts to work on preserving the island’s marine life, Sardinia Post reported.

Harte bought the island at auction in early October after its previous owner, a Milan-based property company, went bankrupt.

But politicians from SEL, a left-wing party, are pushing to block the plans. Alfonso Pecoraro, the former environment minister, also collected 85,000 signatures in a petition protesting the sale.

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The Italian government has until January 8th to decide whether to buy back the island, the home of ‘Pink’ beach, a national park, and reimburse Harte. 

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