Environmentalists target ‘Vilamoura Lakes’ mega project as public consultation deadline approaches

A citizens’ group is on the attack against the ‘Vilamoura Lakes’ mega project which involves turning a 57-hectare area into a sprawling development with villas, holiday homes, restaurants and several artificial lakes.

The environmentalists say that the project, which represents a massive €670 million investment, is an “environmental attack” on the sustainability of the Algarve.

They believe it could wipe out the local vegetation as well as the local bird population and question whether it is worth destroying one of the Algarve’s last wetland areas in order to create a massive tourist development, which they believe is only moving forward because it was given the status of a “project of national interest” (PIN) – which effectively allows it to ‘bend the rules’ in order to advance.

Making matters worse is that the development will be built in an area qualified as “sensitive” – the river basin of Quarteira, near the Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila – although it is guaranteed that the Cerro da Vila will not suffer any damage as an “archaeological reserve area” will be established.

Environmental association Almargem has also expressed its worries about the artificial lakes, as they will be built in an area where there could be freshwater aquifers underneath and where there is the risk of “contamination and salinisation”.

For now, the most urgent goal is to try to get people to participate in the project’s public consultation process before it ends on Monday (September 9).

“We cannot allow a project that was planned in 1999 to move forward in 2019 (based on obsolete plans created hastily to dodge the prohibition of building near the coast) on a planet that is nearing its environmental and social collapse,” says the citizens’ group, entitled ‘Pela Ribeira de Quarteira’, in a statement sent out to the press on Thursday (September 5).

As laywer Rui Amores, one of the members of the group, says: “This project is everything that shouldn’t happen given the current reality of our planet.”

He adds: “It is everything that the people making decisions should say not to, in order to defend their territory, their population and ensure that future generations enjoy the same environmental conditions as their parents and grandparents.

Amores believes that the ‘national interest’ status should not allow builders to “tear up international treaties and build right next to the sea” while also “destroying habitats and agricultural land” and “exponentially increasing water usage.”

The environmental impact study can be viewed online (here)

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