A chink of light has appeared in the people’s campaign to Save Alagoas Brancas – the natural freshwater lagoon that forms in Lagoa after winter rains, playing host to multiple species of migratory birds.
Following protestations by the new mayor that ‘nothing has changed’ regarding the council’s stance to see the site concreted over because this was the municipal plan (PDM) drawn up more than a decade ago, a notice has appeared in State newspaper Diário da República, saying public discussions on the PDM are to open for a period of 45 days.
Starting on Friday this week, ‘interested parties’ will be able to “present their complaints, observations, suggestions and requests for clarification”.
These should be “made in writing and addressed to the president of the municipality”.
Anyone who doesn’t already know about this fight, can read up on recent environmental studies and other documentation available at the council’s ‘balcão único de município) every working day between 9am and 4.30pm.
Information has also been uploaded to the council website (www.cm-lagoa.pt) and can be consulted at the borough’s parish council offices.
This exhaustive fight has seen council bosses warned by experts that the plan to urbanise the lagoon is a recipe for disaster (click here).
Any kind of building on the freshwater lagoon could lead to the area collapsing and the contamination of underground water sources that supply local farms and domestic boreholes.
Last month, new mayor Luís Encarnação was quoted as saying that the council wants to find a solution but needs to safeguard its position with the developer (believed to be connected to the Sonae supermarket chain).
“There have to be compromises”, Encarnação told Jornal Barlavento. “If the council decides to unilaterally suspend the developer’s rights, with no consideration for the law, it will be obliged to compensate the developer. This would probably mean spending a lot of money”.
But up-and-coming political party PAN sees the situation very differently, stressing not only that the council can change the outdated PDM, it should – in the interests of protecting a precious natural environment (click here).
Since PAN’s intervention, matters had gone ‘very quiet’.
Last Friday’s announcement seems to suggest change is in the air.
Certainly campaigners have ‘grasped the nettle’.
In a letter sent to the council on Tuesday, stalwarts of the Save Alagoas Brancas campaign have stressed that planning law has been violated, which means the whole plan should be nullified.
Promoters (Edifício Atlântico S.A.) submitted ‘new elements for appreciation’ last year which should have been the subject of an environmental impact study – but weren’t.
“The illegality committed by Lagoa municipal council to the detriment of the environment and populations goes even further”, says the letter – citing inaction over the report submitted to the commission for regional coordination and development (CCDR) by Almargem; a report that “leaves no margin for doubt” as to the devastating consequences of this project and which stresses that the only course of action is to classify the area as one that merits ecological preservation and protection.