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Battle bus heads for Lisbon to deliver Algarve’s resounding “NO” to Aljezur offshore oil prospection

A battle-bus of local people will be leaving Aljezur at 8am on Wednesday to personally deliver the Algarve’s resounding “NO” to offshore oil prospecting 45km out to sea, due to start on July 1.

The bus provided by Aljezur council is open to anyone and everyone who are asked to book their seats as soon as possible.

Say campaigners “this is the most serious phase of this fight”. It is also a test to gauge the reality of opposition to offshore drilling.

“We have a major opportunity to show that we are serious,” explains spokesperson and CEO of citizens’ group ASMAA (Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association) Laurinda Seabra, who adds that she can see “no valid reasons” for objectors “NOT to be there and take part”.

With the numbers to call to reserve a seat (282 789 888 / 969 320 231) already available online, SIC TV has carried a report on the initiative, stressing that it may have been started by ASMAA, but it now has the full backing of PAN (the People Animals Nature party) and “several borough councils”.

According to ASMAA, the ‘period of public consultation’ given over to this issue has been “a farce”.

News that the Galp/ENI consortium was planning to drill came “out of the blue” and, in Seabra’s mind, appeared to be part of a strategic campaign to wrong-foot the opposition (click here).

“It has been one heck of a year,” she told us when the news came in. “We’re trying to counter developments everywhere: onshore, offshore. One minute it is Portfuel onshore, then the Partex issue in October (offshore near Faro), now it is Galp/ Eni off Aljezur.”

SIC explains the 4,300-strong petition’s opposition centres on the environmental, social and economic impacts that gas and/or oil drilling and extraction will have on the area.

It is an issue that has united local politicians though to date the government has shown no willingness to change the status quo which essentially sees every patch of Portugal’s coastline ‘sold off’ to oil companies (click here).

As the battle-bus fills up, campaigners are already busy planning other demonstrations.

For full details, see ASMAA’s Facebook page.

And for people who can make their own way to Lisbon, demonstrations are planned outside the Assembleia da República (parliamentary building) at midday, and then outside the DGRM (national entity monitoring natural resources and maritime services) in Avenida Brasília from 2.30pm.

Meantime, confirmation that onshore contracts have been rescinded has yet to come (click here).

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com