“Ditch Lisbon – Montijo options for new airport” – environmentalists

Technical commission narrows 17 options down to nine

Nine Portuguese environmental associations argue that the options presented last week for a new Lisbon airport should have nothing to do with Montijo.

The organisations’ position would narrow down the already narrowed down options even further.

From 17 locations mooted only days ago, the technical commission announced that it had come down to nine: Portela+Montijo (the option that has caused endless controversy); Montijo+Portela while a new terminal at Alcochete is constructed (the option from a fated government dispatch); Portela+Santarém; Santarém; Portela+Alcochete, Portela+Pegões, Pegões, and Rio Frio+Poceirão.

The majority of options include ‘dual models’, and some can be put into place in a transitory way until the new airport is finalised, explain reports.

But environmentalists are adamant that there is no reason at all to keep plugging Montijo, due to the fact it has failed repeatedly to fufill necessary criteria.

Among the ‘black marks against Montijo’ are the “impact of noise on the population”, limitations for airport expansion, negative impacts on the Natura 2000 Network and the fact that the site is right alongside an important birding wetland which hosts hundreds of thousands of migratory birds every year.

Says the statement signed by associations Almargem (Association for the Defence of Cultural and Environmental Heritage in the Algarve), ANP|WWF (Association Nature Portugal, in association with the WWF), A ROCHA (Christian Association for the Study and Defence of the Environment), FAPAS (Portuguese Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity), GEOTA (Environment and Spatial Planning Study Group), LPN (Nature Protection League), Quercus (National Association for Nature Conservation), SPEA (Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds), and ZERO (Sustainable Earth System Association): “It is obvious that options that include Montijo and the current Humberto Delgado Airport (Portela) should have already been abandoned”.

The nine associations also note that there is a lack of studies to strengthen knowledge of bird movements between the Tejo and Sado river estuaries, bearing in mind that there are airport options for locations between the two wetlands.

Stressing that an environmental assessment is at stake, the organisations go so far as to question the need for a new airport (a need political leaders have described as ‘urgent’), when the first priority, in compliance with the European Ecological Pact, should be the search for alternatives to air traffic – namely railways and complementarity between airports.

“We would therefore like to stress the absolute need to integrate the airport infrastructure to be selected with metropolitan, regional and international rail networks in order to, on the one hand reduce environmental impact of land accessibility and on the other to allow the elimination of short-haul connecting flights,” the statement continues.

Meantime, the civic platform “BA6-Montijo No Airport” has once again defended Alcochete (old shooting range) as the best option, stressing Alcochete is best placed to “meet strategic needs of the Lisbon region and the country”: the land is already public (no need for expropriation); it is just 41 kms from the centre of the capital; it has enough space for up to four runways,  and an environmental impact statement (DIA) has been performed “which can easily be recovered, as it expired on 9 December 2020 due to the inertia and unwillingness of the concession holder” (meaning VINCI/ ANA airports authority).

All these requirements, according to the civic platform, “fit, like no other location, into the criteria set out by the technical commission”.

BA6-Montijo No Airport adds that it will soon make public the vast quantity of documents it delivered to the commission, proving its case that Montijo is not the place for Lisbon’s new airport.

Source material: LUSA