By 2019-10-04 InAlgarve

New public consultation over ‘soft rural tourism’ project overlooking Alvor estuary

A new period for public consultation opened today on the ‘soft rural tourism’ project proposed for Quinta da Rocha – the environmentally-protected estate overlooking Alvor estuary sold 13 years ago to a developer intent on creating a VIP tourist resort by the now disgraced art mogul Joe Berardo (click here).

Berardo purchased Quinta da Rocha (in the late 90s) for a reported €2 million.

The 200-hectare site then changed hands, apparently for more than seven times that amount – and there followed a vicious battle between new owner Aprígio Santos and environmental groups determined the property’s precious marshland areas should remain intact.

The battle played out in the courts, with judges eventually ruling in favour of environmental protections (click here).

But since then various attempts to create ‘new plans’ have been put forward, the last – in May this year – described by dissenters as “a Trojan Horse” and “wolf in sheep’s clothing” (click here).

Water View, the new owning company – still linked to Aprígio Santos – has ‘reformulated’ the proposals on the request of the CCDR (Algarve commission for coordination and redevelopment), which has now given the public just 10 days to consider them and make comments.

The new documents can be found on the ‘participa’ portal (click here) and the CCDR’s own site (click here). They involve a one-page ‘edital’ (public notice) and a 113-page report on what Water View calls ‘additional measures of (environmental) minimisation’.

Veteran campaigners are ‘studying’ the text, affirming: “We remain determined to fight the plans if the various priority conservation limitations imposed by the Portuguese government and EU are not acknowledged”.

These ‘limitations’ were not mentioned in the first set of proposals, hence why Water View was asked to ‘come up with something better’.

Aprígio Santos’ original plan for Quinta da Rocha – involving two luxury hotels, two tourist villages and a VIP beach – has come a long way since 2006: it is now down to ‘a small hotel and nine country houses, with a total of 64 beds’.

Aprígio Santos and his property empire have also come a long way in the intervening years, registering debts according to some newspapers of up to 600 million euros.

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