By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]
Construction of Quinta da Ombria, a golf and tourist development project near Loulé, has been criticised by the League for the Protection of Nature (LPN), which claims that the project is a threat to the environment.
LPN says that the chemicals to be used in the installation and maintenance of the golf course could contaminate the largest reserve of underground water in the Algarve, which is located between Querença and Silves.
The project has always been opposed by environmentalists and LPN even presented a complaint to the European Commission in 2004.
The association fears that the exploitation of the aquifer for the construction of the golf course will cause the lowering of the groundwater levels, leading to the entry of seawater and the consequent destruction of the reserve.
A spokesman from LPN said: “The growth of golf in the Algarve is devastating for the environment in the region. We call on the European Commission to play its role in protecting the environment by enforcing the European and national legislation.”
Hélder Martins, the director of Quinta da Ombria, also a former President of the Algarve Tourism Board (ERTA), told Lusa news agency that the project is “environmentally friendly” and says he does not understand the statements made by the LPN.
He guarantees that there will not be contamination of the aquifer because the project will use water from dams in the Algarve.
“The water for this golf project will be supplied by dams in the Algarve water network, so what LPN is arguing is false,” said Hélder Martins.
He also said that the process for the construction of the project has lasted “more than 23 years and all environmental impact studies required by the Portuguese Government and the European Commission have been performed”.
He added: “We have spent millions of Euros on environmental studies and all is accurate according to environmental laws.”
The development, owned by Finnish group Pontos, covers nearly 150 hectares in the parish of Querença and will include a five star hotel, an 18-hole golf course, three tourist developments, 31 plots for individual homes and a spa.
It is estimated that it will create 300 jobs.