The nine environmental associations that have fought tooth-and-nail to get protected status for birding wetland Lagoa dos Salgados are back on the frontline this week due to the attempts by Millennium bcp to wriggle development in under the wire.
As explained last week, the official consensus is that the area, taking in Lagoa dos Salgados, and over a hundred hectares that would have included a plan for several hotels, holiday homes and an 18-hole golf course (click here) will be conceded protected status as a natural reserve.
But nothing has yet been set in stone – and now the owners of the land (Millennium bank, which inherited it due to unpaid debts) are pushing for what they believe is their right: permission to build.
Indeed, the bank’s CEO has reportedly threatened to lodge a €100 million claim for compensation against the State if the bank doesn’t get its way.
In a statement to the press, the ‘Lagoa dos Salgados participative movement’ – made up of NGOs Almargem, A Rocha, ANP/WWF, Vita Nativa, LPN, Quercus-ANCN, SPEA (the Portuguese society for the protection of birds), SPB (the Portuguese society for the protection of botany) and ZERO, as well as other companies which host nature tourism – explains that it views “the developers’ insistence in resubmitting this project” with “displeasure and concern”.
The group hopes that public authorities “will take a firm stance that will definitely make this undertaking unfeasible”.
By all accounts, this is exactly what is likely to happen. But these NGOs have been ‘around the block’ more than a few times; they have seen victories turn to dust and battle-armour require repolishing and putting back on.
Thus the renewed call to everyone who cares about nature to make their voices heard.
Time is running out.
The limit for ‘public participation’ expires on February 18. There is essentially only a week to go.
Anyone finding the participation site ‘complicated’, can see the ‘easy step by step’ guide provided by one of our readers Frank McClintock on the letters page (click here). Frank was the guiding light behind the petition to save Lagoa dos Salgados from the ravages of touristic development which to date has gathered more than 35,000 signatures.
As the environmental associations guarantee: “Approval of this project presents enormous impact on the unique values of what is one of the last natural strongholds of the southern Algarve coast. It should be analysed according to the context, challenges and current threats in this territory”.
The ‘Lagoa dos Salgados participative movement’ has a facebook page (click here) in which a text on how to register one’s participation promises shortly to be published.