Court will study appeal to protect estuary.jpg

Court will study appeal to protect estuary

By: CECÍLIA PIRES

[email protected]

THE ADMINISTRATIVE Central Court of the South has agreed to study an appeal from the Alvor-based association A Rocha to stop owners from Quinta da Rocha, in the Ria de Alvor estuary, from using their land for grazing and carrying out cleaning works in the protected area.

The appeal for a court order against Quinta da Rocha property owners was originally presented to Loulé’s Administrative and Fiscal Court, following the destruction of several protected plant species in Quinta da Rocha.

However, in December, Loulé court refused the court order request made by A Rocha, alleging technical errors

The protected plant species, Thymus Camphoratus, can be found in the estuary.
The protected plant species, Thymus Camphoratus, can be found in the estuary.

related to the paperwork needed to make the appeal (see The Resident editions of January 4 and 17).

The Tribunal Central Administrativo do Sul (TCAS), a higher regional court of appeals, has now announced it will look at the case. According to João Tiago, from A Rocha environmental association, “although the news is  good, it is not enough to stop works from being carried out at Quinta da Rocha”.

The decision, he says, “means that the request for a court restriction order is going to be analysed”, contrary to what was previously decided by the Loulé Court, and that there is still hope” for the preservation of the species existing in the Alvor estuary.

Quinta da Rocha is the property of Butwell Trading, Serviços e Investimentos SA, a company owned by Imoholding, a Portuguese construction and real estate group belonging to Aprígio dos Santos, a businessman who is better known in Portugal for his involvement in the football industry.

Mr dos Santos bought the property from the famous Portuguese investor Joe Berardo, owner of the Berardo Collection, one of the biggest modern art collections presently existing in Portugal.

Mr Berardo bought the property in 2004 for about 500,000 euros and sold it to Mr dos Santos for five million euros in 2005.

Embargo

In December 2007, Mr dos Santos was accused by the Portimão Public Prosecutor of disrespecting environmental legislation, following an embargo from the Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional do Algarve (CCDR-Algarve), the development agency in the region, to stop the cleaning operations held in the Quinta da Rocha area.

The environmental association spokesperson now fears that the owners of Quinta da Rocha have already destroyed several natural habitats of the Ria de Alvor estuary, which is under the special protection of Rede Natura 2000, a law created in 2000 establishing protected natural areas, and Reserva Ecológica Nacional (REN), the country’s ecological network of protected areas.

Although the Alvor estuary is also protected by the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty that ensures conservation and wise use of wetlands in the world, Butwell, through Imoholding, has been marketing Quinta da Rocha in international fairs and online as one of the best property investments in the Algarve. However, the website, www.quintadarocha.com, is currently “under construction”.

For more information about A Rocha, visit

http://pt.arocha.org/home/ (site available in English).

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