Environmentalists and government officials are at loggerheads over the €1.8 million sand replenishment project underway at Lagos’ Dona Ana beach.
While Environment Minister Jorge Moreira da Silva claims the work is “vital and wise”, Almargem says it is a “crime approved by the government that will destroy” the beautiful beach, serving “only to protect the interests of the tourism industry”.
The issue made the headlines after the unpopular minister visited the beach on Friday (May 15), shortly before travelling to Faro (see: https://www.portugalresident.com/outrage-as-environment-minister-tells-packed-meeting-in-faro-%E2%80%9Cria-formosa-demolitions-must-continu-0).
He told Lusa news agency: “As I have visited the beach and am not speaking as someone in Lisbon who knows nothing about the matter, I can say this intervention is vital and wise.”
Environmental association Almargem reacted by releasing a statement declaring ‘the Minister of Environment approves the destruction of Dona Ana beach’.
As with protesters in Ria Formosa, Almargem accuses Moreira da Silva of implementing a hidden agenda “to protect, at any cost, the interests of the tourism industry so that everyone can have a spot on the beach”.
“That is the real basis of the government’s initiative, no matter how sensible and conciliatory the statements of its ministers are,” said the association.
Almargem also criticised the minister for not taking any notice of the idea to set up danger perimeters at the base of cliffs to protect beachgoers from rockfalls.
The association knows the move could “affect tourism”, but claims it is the “honest” way to protect people.
Instead, it says, the government is moving forwards with a “crime against world heritage and the credibility of Portugal and the Algarve as a sustainable tourist destination”.
The sand replenishment plan was scheduled to begin six years ago but had to be revised and only recently received the green light.
As work continues, the beach and its parking and access routes are partially closed to the public with completion due mid-June.
In all around 140,000sqm of sand are due to channeled onto the beach.
By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]
Photo by: ALMARGEM