solar farm

Alentejo citizens file injunction against massive solar farm

ProtegeAlentejo association has formed solely to fight this mega solar project

ProtegeAlentejo, an association battling a massive solar farm planned for Santiago de Cacém, has filed an injunction in the Administrative and Fiscal Court (TAF) of Beja to prevent the start of works.

In a statement sent to Lusa today, the association says that in addition to the injunction, filed on Monday, it will be moving forwards “in the coming days” with an action to challenge the Environmental Impact Declaration (DIA) – the document that gave the project the green light.

According to the association, its injunction aims to “prevent the issuing of any license by the DGEG (Directorate General for Energy and Geology) that would allow the start of construction works”.

The solar project is a joint initiative developed by Sunshining, SA (Prosolia) and the Spanish Iberdrola group.

This second lawsuit, which will also be filed in the Beja TAF, “aims to declare the nullity” of the DIA or “its annulability”.

According to ProtegeAlentejo, the DIA – issued by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) – “is based on non-existent facts, contains serious omissions, calling into question the objectives of the Environmental Impact Assessment”.

The project “provides for the replacement of over 1,200 hectares of forest cover with a mega solar park, degrading areas with an important function in providing ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, biodiversity refuge and spaces for the enjoyment of nature”, says the group.

For ProtejoAlentejo, the impacts of the Fernando Pessoa solar power plant will be “very significant, long-term, irreversible and unmitigable“, taking into account that almost the entire area of the project falls within the National Ecological Reserve, “clashing with everything that is intended to defend this restriction of public utility”.

“Promoters are choosing areas where a weakened opposition can be expected” due to the fact that the population is “ageing and not very participative, with a considerable degree of illiteracy and the majority being without access to the media”, says the group.

Their statement recalls “strong opposition” already shown by the local population:  an online public petition, currently with 2,027 signatures, and a high number of participations in the two public consultations, “most of them in disagreement” with the project.

ProtejoAlentejo has also criticised the role of APA in the whole process – considering APA “is used to serve the interests of private companies” – as well as the various institutional entities involved, which, in its view, have “shown complete disregard for public opinion“.

This complaint is a very common one when it comes to civic organisations facing off against entities like the DGEG. In the Algarve, for example, Monchique residents have had to battle on various occasions over DGEG zeal open the way to the mining of feldspar in the middle of areas popular with rural tourism. Up till now, they have consistently won.

Source material: LUSA