Controversial Ria de Alvor tourist project available for public consultation

A controversial project to build two five-star hotels and two tourist complexes in the Quinta da Rocha estate, near Ria de Alvor estuary, is currently available for public consultation until February 6.

Led by Aprígio Santos – a business man who has been dubbed an ‘eco vandal’ by environmentalists – the bid includes the construction of 300 tourist beds across the estate’s 200-hectare area and is expected to create around 100 direct jobs. The project, aimed at “nature tourism”, is set within the Ria de Alvor’s Tourist Development Plan (Núcleo de Desenvolvimento Turístico da Ria de Alvor).

Although it has been reported that the total investment will amount to €34.4 million, the sum has not been confirmed.

As we reported last month, where the money is coming from is a mystery, as the entrepreneur is said to have around €600 million in debt through his firm Butwell Trading.

Locals are worried that the plans may lead to the destruction of the estate’s wildlife and have voiced their protests on the ‘Portimão Sempre’ Facebook group. As one wrote, “This is a disgrace! I hope everyone comes together and does something to stop this.”

Tiago Branco from Alvor-based environmental association A Rocha maintained once again that “we will not oppose the project as long as it is legal”.

“We are currently studying the project and will soon release a more thorough review,” he told us.

As the estate is a haven for many bird species and other wildlife, Branco warned that “coastal and animal habitat” laws will have to be “respected” by the developers, although he stressed again that Aprígio Santos has a “long history of environmental destruction”.

Early last year, the Central Administrative Court of the South upheld a conviction that the habitat at Quinta da Rocha had to be “completely restored to its original condition”.

The court ordered the “permanent suspension of activities in protected areas”, increasing its original 10-year ruling to one that should apply ‘forever’.

Anyone interested in reading about the project can do so online (www.cm-portimao.pt) or at the council’s construction department on Rua Oceano Atlântico.

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]

Photo: MICHAEL BRUXO/OPEN MEDIA GROUP