Alagoas Brancas: campaigners accuse council of putting “property and lives in danger”

Campaigners desperate to save Lagoa’s natural freshwater lagoon Alagoas Brancas from being concreted over are threatening council bosses with protracted legal action.

At issue is Lagoa council’s insistence on going forwards with a plan to concrete over a natural freshwater lagoon that becomes home every winter to scores of species of nesting birds and sundry other wildlife.

Campaigners participating in the so-called ‘public consultation’ period for the revised PDM (town plan) delivered a blistering attack at the only session held for the public – curiously at an hour when most people were working.

Said one, it was “such a stilted affair” that there was no sign even of the comprehensive report compiled by environmentalists minutely explaining why the council’s plans court catastrophe (click here).

As has been explained on numerous occasions, by ‘eliminating areas of ecological natural reserve’ (known as REN) from the town plan, the council has indeed opened the area of Alagoas Brancas up for ‘future construction’. But what it hasn’t changed is the make-up of the soil: which sits on the kind of rock formations that absorb water and form underground caverns and sinkholes.

Say campaigners, the council may think it can get round this by selling the sandy top-soil to contractors in the construction industry, but that won’t stop the fact that underground water sources will still flow freely in heavy rains. With the natural form of the land destroyed to make way for the council’s revised plan, the consequences of these rains will almost certainly produce flooding which will cause damage to property at best – and threaten lives at worst.

This has always been the gist of the arguments against constructing on the ancient site that gave Lagoa its name.

But campaigners have gone further. They’re targeting now what they call the “hypocrisy” of an executive that claims to ‘respect climate change’ and which signed up to the ‘intermunicipal plan for adaptation to climate change in the south of the country’ (PIAAC-AMAL).

Says the group “Salvar as Alagoas Brancas”, “hypocrisy joins illegality” because the changes the council is proposing “are in complete conflict with the current REN regime”.

In other words, they say the council isn’t ‘revising’ the town plan for any benefit to local people, it is rewriting it to “suit an economic agenda”.

Campaigners, backed by environmental lawyer Rui Amores, ended their withering attack on the revised PDM with the warning that they will be ready with legal guns blazing should the council continue on its chosen path.

And any lawsuits submitted “should drag on for years”.

This is just another round in the exhaustive fight to save one of the Algarve’s last undeveloped freshwater wetlands from the ravages of commercial development.

A petition to this effect is still available online (click here)

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