Citizens group fighting construction on ‘last green area of coastline’ claims council is holding back on vital information

Citizens fighting to preserve the stunning area of João de Arens in Alvor claim Portimão Council is holding back on vital information.

They say they need documents which they know are in the council’s possession in order to make the best possible case against the construction of three hotels that would forever obliterate what they call “the last window to the sea” (click here).

The group claims to have twice requested access to these documents, to no avail.

They claim “this attitude on the part of Portimão municipal council violates the principle of public participation in decisions that affect them”, reports online news website Sulinformação.

The council’s behaviour should thus “render null any decisions made following the so-called period of public consultation”, particularly if the decision is a green light for construction.

Time, however, is running out. The period given for public consultation should end next week (March 15).

Says Sulinformação, campaigners have asked the local CCDR (commission for regional coordination and development) to extend the limit on the basis that Portimão council appears to be working against them.

Tomorrow (Saturday), sees a series of initiatives organised to highlight the benefits of leaving João de Arens the way it is.

This is not a ‘new plan’, in as much as the hotel projects have existed for some time, originally promoted by separate owners.

What has changed is that swashbuckling ‘aristocrat’ Miguel Pais do Amaral – described by Jornal de Negocios as a “businessman who knows how to buy companies, restructure them and sell them at a profit” – has brought all the owners together and is now heading up the project, as they say in this country “with force”.

The “value of the investment” has been stated at between €40-€45 million, “without including the construction of necessary infrastructures” and the number of jobs promised is 400 direct jobs, 600 ‘indirect’.

Developers’ thrust is that the three hotel units planned would be high quality, and in all three space would be left for “a portion of land that represents great environmental importance”.

The difficulty for environmental campaigners who don’t want to see any more building along the coastline is that many of the project’s aspects have been deemed ‘positive’ for the area in an EIA (environmental impact study) that concludes that “negative impacts that would invalidate the project or oblige alterations have not been identified”.

It has to be said the EIAs are invariably carried out by companies working at the behest of developers and thus criticised by environmentalists for not being ‘independent’.

For the time being, public participation remains open on the project and can be accessed via this link (http://participa.pt/consulta.jsp?loadP=2506).

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com