High tension in Monchique

THE PEOPLE of Alferce and Fornalha, in Monchique, are very conscious of the problems that the planned line of high-tension electricity pylons will bring to the area. Despite the fact that official drawings for the pylons, which will carry electricity from Sines to Portimão, have not yet been finalised, the people of Alferce and Fornalha are angry over the latest alternative route presented by Rede Eléctrica Nacional (REN), Portugal’s national electricity network.

The pylons, which were due to go through the Zona de Protecção Especial, a protected area at Alferce, have now been re-routed and are planned to travel through populated areas instead, due to the fact that nests of águia-de-bonelli, a protected bird on the verge of extinction, have been found.  

Alferce already has a line of medium voltage pylons running through the area, which have caused agitation to those who live nearby. Maria de Lurdes José is one of the people who owns land near the existing pylons in Umbria, and said that there is a constant whistling noise that causes her to have headaches. The risk of cancer and childhood leukaemia is increased with continual exposure to the electromagnetic field generated from the electricity running through the cables, and it is feared that the 400KV of the high-tension pylons will cause serious health problems.

In the 2003 survey, carried by the Estudo de Impacto Ambiental (EIA), drawings were made for the line to pass through Odelouca, in an unpopulated area, and was accepted by Monchique Câmara. However, the Instituto do Ambiente (environment institute), based on the conclusions of EIA’s first drawings, showed that the line would be 700 metres away from a nest of águia-de-bonelli. Following this, two new sketches were proposed, one similar to the first, but slightly further away from the nests, and another seeing the pylons running straight through the populated Alferce.

Several expatriates came to Alferce for the peace and tranquillity, but have been forced to sell their houses and head for another area.   This alternative, chosen by REN, caused uproar in the area and, in protest, the population ran a petition, collecting hundreds of signatures. The petition has been sent to the president of the Instituto do Ambiente. All residents of Alferce and Fornalha can do now is wait and hope ….

• If you are affected by the Monchique or Paderne electricity pylons, and would like to tell us your story, please contact The Resident by e-maill at [email protected]