By: NATASHA SMITH
NINETY TREES are in danger of being felled in Castro Marim to make way for the construction of a luxury resort, claims an environmental organisation.
José Estevens, câmara president for Castro Marim, dismissed remarks made by the organisation, Almaragem, as “ridiculous”. Estevens defended the development company, Verdelago, and a spokesperson for the câmara told The Resident: “The project manager has done everything possible to minimise environmental damage and impact of construction on the environment.”
Almaragem accused Verdelago of intending to fell 90 trees to create more space to construct a luxury tourist resort in Altura.
More than 100 million euros has been invested in this project, which is now being constructed following many years of being in planning stages.
The resort will create around 600 jobs once it opens. Verdelago intends to construct a five-star hotel with 200 rooms, 340 villas and apartments, a shopping centre and an 18-hole golf course. A total of 2,041 bed spaces will be created and the resort will be spread over 94 hectares, with direct access to Praia Verde, one of the most popular beaches in the area. The resort is expected to open in 2009.
Almaragem confirmed to The Resident that a letter had been sent to the Ministry of the Environment, in an attempt to stop the damage, which could be made to the environment. The felling of this number of trees must be approved by the Direcção-Geral dos Recursos Florestais, the Algarve’s forestry commission and Almaragem is endeavouring to stop the felling through this entity.
Verdelago claim that some trees would have to be removed to make way for houses, but others would be incorporated into the design and construction of some houses as well as green areas created within the future resort, where trees, plants and animals will be able to thrive.
Almaragem is against the construction because the resort would occupy part of an area that was designated as conservation land by Rede Natura 2000, as well as pine forests, cork groves and pastures.
The project was classified by the government as a Projecto de Interesse Nacional (PIN), a project of national interest. This typically accelerates the construction process and speeds up the acquisition of any licences, which has caused concern for Almaragem as it has little time in which to act.
Verdelago is owned by Inland, where Benfica FC’s President, Luís Filipe Vieira, is a major shareholder. A spokesperson for Inland neither denied nor confirmed whether the trees would be felled, but was adamant that the project has rigorously abided by the legal system.
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