Costa da Caparica – the stretch of coastline so popular with Lisbon residents in the summer – is to start closing beaches, one by one, during August for a €6.3 million sand-replenishment operation.
Say authorities, it’s the only time available for interventions that are desperately needed.
Beachside businesses and environmentalists disagree – for their own reasons.
The businesses are simply aghast at the prospect of losing vital revenue during the peak summer season, while environmentalists say the whole saga could be a pointless waste of money.
Stresses association ZERO’s president Francisco Ferreira, sand replenishment plans are purely “a remedy” while authorities “haven’t got the courage for more dramatic solutions”.
“With rising sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events, we should be taking more drastic measures”, he said, stressing six million euros “is very high” for what is essentially a form of short-term maintenance (click here).
As to the nitty gritty, timetables are hazy. It appears the works – part-funded via the EU – will affect a 3.8 km stretch between Costa da Caparica and Cova do Vapor, with beaches along the way being closed for a week at a time.
José Ricardo Martins, president of Costa da Caparica’s parish council, explains the intervention involves the transportation of a million cubic metres of sand from the Tejo estuary to various beaches, “according to their requirements”.
The operation – originally scheduled for May but held up due to lack of authorisation from the Accounts Court – will take roughly 30 days “but could stretch to 45”, says Martins – insisting: “We cannot have the town exposed as it was in 2014”, when violent storms caused millions in damages to beachside properties.
Indeed, in an ideal world, Costa da Caparica would see sand-replenishment operations going ahead every three years, he said, when the environment ministry has made it clear that it can only afford them every 10.
As August approaches, the association of businesses along the Caparica beachfront is ‘contesting’ the plan of works, which has still not yet received all the greenlights it needs.