João d’Arens to remain ‘development-free’ as Portimão hotel project gets second ‘thumbs down’

Environmentalists in the Algarve are celebrating the news that the controversial project to build three hotels in “one of the last untouched coastal areas” in Portimão has once again received an environmental ‘thumbs down’.

The project’s environmental impact statement (DIA) was “unfavourable,” the regional development commission CCDR Algarve has revealed, ensuring that Portimão’s coastal beauty spot João d’Arens will remain ‘development-free’.

Portimão Mayor Isilda Gomes has admitted this second setback has spelled the end of any hopes of development in the area.

“The developers had a first opportunity and then a second opportunity. They didn’t take advantage of them, so I have no choice to let the plan fall,” she told local news website Sul Informação.

After failing to receive approval last summer, the developers – Top Building, Astronow, Areia Feliz and Estoril Investe – presented a new environmental impact study for a revised plan in a bid to bypass the initial rejection.

As readers may recall, the first draft of the project’s environmental impact study was rejected after the evaluation committee responsible for analysing the study decided that the plans were “in no condition” to be approved.

This was because the committee feared the impact that the project would have on the “biodiversity and landscape” of the popular João d’Arens coastal strip between Praia do Vau and Praia dos Três Irmãos.

But the changes that the developers made failed to change the outcome of the second DIA, which stresses that the project would have “significant impacts which could not be mitigated in terms of the destruction of the morphology and usage of the soil, of biodiversity, territory and landscape”.

The destruction of Linaria Algarviana – a species of plant native to the Algarve, belonging to the figwort family and included in the Natura 2020 network –was highlighted as one of the most negative aspects of the project, as it would have a “definitive and irreversible impact on the population of this protected species”.

(Click here) to see the full environmental impact statement.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com