A petition with over 7,000 signatures calling on parliament to “prevent oil and gas exploration” off the coast of the Algarve was delivered to MPs this week by PALP, the region’s anti-oil group.
PALP member Manuel Vieira told Lusa news agency that no matter the outcome of the petition, the group already has the merit of “bringing this topic into the spotlight”.
“At first it was difficult to make people think about this problem and believe the negative consequences that this project can have on the region, but this is already changing,” he said, referring to the environmental risk of the drillings.
In the petition, the group says it believes this subject has been enveloped in “secrecy” even though it “affects the wellbeing of the population, the ecosystem and numerous economic sectors of the region”.
“This political-economic decision is hugely serious if you take into account that the Algarve people were neither informed nor consulted about this process, which will affect the lives of everyone,” the petition reads.
As PALP points out, “most of the Algarve’s maritime and land territory has been approved for oil and gas exploration”, including the Sapal nature reserves of Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António, and the natural parks of Ria Formosa and the Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina.
The petition was handed over to parliament at a time when the left-wing alliance – the PS Socialist, PCP communists, green party PEV and Bloco de Esquerda – hold the majority of seats.
Whether this will help PALP’s goal is unclear, Manuel Vieira says, guaranteeing that the petition would have been handed into parliament even if PSD and CDS-PP still held a dominant position.
“It is no inconvenience to us for this topic to be discussed with either majority, as it has already been discussed with PSD and PS governments in the past,” he stressed.
Parliament now has two weeks to consider the petition for a debate.
By MICHAEL BRUXO email@example.com