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Environmental NGOs demand halt to Praia Grande’s “oversized and illegal” eco-resort project

Environmentalists are not giving up on their fight against plans to build a massive luxury development in what is called “one of the last unspoilt stretches of Algarve coast” in Praia Grande, Silves.

Six associations have released a joint statement demanding a halt to the “eco-resort” which they describe as “clearly oversized, illegal and destructive of public heritage”.

Their plea comes a week after the end of the public consultation of the project’s environmental report, also known as a RECAPE.

They say the report is “in many aspects incomplete and does not comply with many of the conditions legally imposed by the environmental impact declaration”.

The statement is signed by Almargem, A Rocha, GEOTA, LPN, Quercus and SPEA, a group calling itself Plataforma dos Amigos da Lagoa dos Salgados (Platform of Friends of Lagoa dos Salgados).

“It is sad that it has to be citizens mobilising to stop this project. The permissiveness of regional and central authorities is almost immoral,” the associations say.

As they point out, the project includes a 300-hectare mega development comprising three hotels, two tourist villages, 4,000 beds, a golf course and a commercial area, occupying an unspoilt area between the Albufeira and Armação de Pêra boroughs.

“The project won’t bring anything new to the Algarve’s tourism sector and will destroy the last natural coastal area of Silves.”

As they explain, neighbouring Lagoa dos Salgados is home to several “protected species” and is one of the most visited areas by birdwatchers and nature lovers.

“It has great potential for educational, leisurely and touristic purposes and is clearly a differentiating element in the Algarve.”

The issue, they believe, is that the project is not suited to the area due to its dimensions.

Environmentalists say they would be happy to accept a tourist project if it was “lighter in terms of construction, filled with nature and more open to the public”.

As it is now, environmentalists believe that “the same mistakes that have been made so many times in the Algarve will be repeated”.

The NGOs also go into detail about why the RECAPE does not comply with the project’s environmental impact study, saying that the “monitoring and mitigation measures that are presented are insufficient.”

They also say that the “evaluation of the impact of the project on the fauna and flora is inadequate and incomplete” and that the studies that were mentioned in the RECAPE are not accessible to the public, which prevents people from checking them.

Thus the associations are confident that Loulé court won’t allow the project to move forward. They also expect Silves council to become more actively involved in the search for a different project that won’t destroy the area’s natural resources and won’t leave Silves, the Algarve and Portugal “irreversibly poorer”.

This is an ongoing battle that dates back several years and was recently reignited due to Millennium BCP’s recent ‘takeover’ of the site, as a result of former owner Finalgarve of the Gallilei Group (ex-BPN/ SLN) going bust.

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Photo: CBRE