By: CECÍLIA PIRES
SEVERAL DEVELOPMENT projects in Vila do Bispo and Aljezur may be cancelled following a government decision announced on January 17 that aims to preserve the local natural park from real estate invasion.
The decision suspends some of the projects and says all the future construction will require authorisation from the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina (PNSACV), the local natural park, for the next two years and affects projects already under development in the area.
Responding to the growing conflict between Vila do Bispo and Aljezur câmaras (see The Resident editions of July 13 and January 11) and the PNSACV, the government is looking to gain some time to resolve the legal confusion resulting from mixed regulations related to the real estate development in protected areas.
According to the resolution, the new “preventive measure aims to avoid any change of the circumstances and conditions presently existing in the area of the new Plano de Ordenamento”, the region’s strategic development plan.
In the Vila do Bispo council district, seven areas are affected, including the immediate suspension of projects in Caminho do Infante, Acomave and Esparregueiras.
The other four, Quinta da Fortaleza, Carriços, Moledo and Martinhal, are included in a Zona de Ocupação Turística (ZOT), a tourism developing region, and will therefore only be constrained to a specific authorisation from the Instituto de Conservação da Natureza e da Biodiversidade (ICNB), the national environment authority.
In the Aljezur district, the development areas affected are Vila Rosalinda, Espartal and Vale da Telha, located between Arrifana beach and Montes Clérigos, which is also the biggest in the region with an estimated number of 3,000 plots.
The decision has caused mixed reactions in the region. The Câmara presidents, including Gilberto Viegas, president of Vila do Bispo Câmara, accused the government of making “exaggerated” and “disproportionate” decisions.
In the meantime, the environmental associations, like the local Almargem and the national Quercus, welcomed the decision, saying it will help to preserve some of the most sensitive areas of Portugal’s southwest coast.
After the government’s decision was announced, Portuguese Environment Minister, Francisco Nunes Correia, said that the demolition of some projects in the areas affected by the resolution is not excluded, although he said the national authorities will first look for a solution to the existing illegal constructions in connection with the câmaras.
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