Islanders vow to take “illegal” Ria Formosa demolitions to European Court

Desperately calling for justice as they see their homes being razed to the ground, Ria Formosa islanders’ may now take their plight to the European Court.

In another bid to be heard by the powers-that-be, more than 300 people from Culatra, Hangares and Farol islands gathered in Olhão last Saturday to demand the “immediate suspension” of the Ria Formosa demolitions, which the government says are intended to return the area back to its natural state.

The meeting was held at the municipal auditorium and attended by a number of political heavyweights, such as Algarve MP Miguel Freitas (PS), communist MP Paulo Sá (PCP) and the mayors of Faro and Olhão, Rogério Bacalhau and António Pina respectively.

The move has been seen as a big step forwards against the demolitions, especially as just over a week ago António Pina – mayor of Olhão council, one of the authorities that makes up Sociedade Polis, the entity behind the demolitions – admitted the works being carried out along the estuary since January 1 were “illegal”.

Sílvia Padinha, the president of the Culatra residents association, asked: “What is the government waiting for to suspend the demolitions if the whistleblower is in fact one of the members of Sociedade Polis”?

The residents’ associations in attendance guaranteed they will continue fighting, “using all legal means”, to suspend the demolitions and find a solution that satisfies the residents.

“We will take this case as far as we can, including the European Court, in order to end this injustice promoted by the Portuguese government,” said Padinha.

According to Lusa news agency, around 100 houses were torn down last week on Faro Island, although Pólis – for now – is sparing homes in the central area of the island as well as those considered to be ‘first-homes’.

The plan to demolish 808 shanty homes and “restore the land back to its natural state” is expected to cost the government €17 million and was recently under the spotlight after suggestions that the demolitions were underway to make room for luxury tourism developments (see

Animal association rescues island strays
Meantime, volunteers from Olhão animal association ADAPO have been on Ilha das Ratas to assess how many stray dogs and cats will need re-homing after the demolitions.

Working with the municipal vet, the association has already rescued one dog and will continue its efforts throughout this week. The animals will be put at the local municipal kennel – a “no-kill” shelter, says ADAPO – or at ADAPO’s rescue centre.

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]

Photo: by ADAPO