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Algarve desalination plant project faces major setback

Landowner is threatening going to court

The project to build a desalination plant in Albufeira is facing a major setback due to a landowner who refuses to accept seeing his land expropriated for half the amount of money he purchased it for.

The landowner has even threatened taking the matter to court if necessary, reports weekly newspaper Expresso.

The issue concerns a plot of land located in Quinta da Ponte – where the desalination plant is intended to be installed – consisting of two properties (one rustic and one mixed), totaling 12 hectares, in the parish of Albufeira and Olhos de Água, three kilometres from Falésia Beach.

The properties were acquired by Juan Ferreiro Diaz in 2005 for €1.7 million euros, more than double the amount of the expropriation proposal, which is around €634,000.

“As the Galicians we are, we will fight for a fair process and challenge this expropriation in court,” said Juan Ferreiro Diaz’s daughter, Albide Ferreiro Gomez, cited by Expresso.

As the newspaper explains, the public tender for the desalination project is meant to be launched by the end of January, but regional water company Águas do Algarve still does not have possession of all the rustic properties where they intend to build the plant. The deadline for landowners to respond to the expropriation letter ends this Thursday (January 25), with the one landowner still refusing to vacate the land.

Quoted by the newspaper, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action (MAAC) said that the tender for the project “will open by the end of January, corresponding to the pre-contractual procedure for the construction of the desalination plant.” This is despite there being no set date for the issuance of the Environmental Impact Statement, which could slam the brakes on the project.

According to the ministry, “the ongoing expropriation process will safeguard the rights and interests of the expropriated, and, according to the Public Procurement Code, the project owner is only required to be in administrative possession of the expropriated lands at the time of contract conclusion.”

The construction of a desalination plant in the Algarve to tackle drought remains a divisive issue, with many defending that other options would be more effective and less damaging to the environment.

By Michael Bruxo

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