Future of coastal redevelopment plans uncertain

Four mayors have called for an urgent meeting with the government to discuss the future of a programme to redevelop the south-western coastline of Portugal.

Announced in 2009 by former environment minister Nunes Correia, the Polis Litoral Sudoeste programme for the municipalities of Aljezur, Vila do Bispo, Sines and Odemira is to be implemented by 2013, with a total investment of €46.7 million.

It aims to redevelop 150 kilometres of coastline, totalling 9,500 hectares of land, and include projects in three protected areas, the South-West Alentejo and Costa Vicentina Natural Park and the natural reserves of Lagoa de Santo André and Lagoa da Sancha.

However, the mayors say that “only” €3.4 million have been spent so far and fear that the redevelopment projects for the ‘Litoral Sudoeste’ area may be suspended after the government announced recently that it would be reviewing the Polis programme.

José Amarelinho, President of Aljezur Câmara, says the redevelopment of the Arrifana Fortress and surrounding areas, representing €100,700 and “some minor work to the Polis Society headquarters” were the only projects carried out with the remainder of the €3.4 million to pay management fees to ParquExpo”, the company in charge of the Polis programmes.

Nearly half of the funding for the Polis Litoral Sudoeste programme comes from the EU (48%), with the remainder from the government and the four municipalities.

The mayors have now requested a meeting with the environment minister, Assunção Cristas, to define strategies for the near future but are yet to receive a response. “We have however received assurance that no decisions would be made by the government on the Polis programme until this is discussed with us,” said José Amarelinho.

Faro Mayor Macário Correia has, however, managed to make an appointment with the environment minister for June 25 to discuss the Polis Litoral Ria Formosa, which represents an investment of €87.5 million.

The future of the Ria Formosa redevelopment programme is also raising some doubts with Faro mayor admitting that there is some “uncertainty” surrounding the issue.