Judges “unanimously admit” case for Costa Vicentina drilling embargo

The “good news week” just got a whole lot better for anti-oil activists fighting oil and gas drilling contracts in place throughout the country.

Judges at Lisbon’s administrative courts have now unanimously accepted Odemira municipality’s bid for a legal embargo lodged late last month to block drilling deep-offshore 46 kms from the coast of Aljezur (click here).

With all the procedures that this entails, the likelihood of concession GALP/ ENI sending out
drilling teams as planned this year is now zero, the powerhouse behind the growing anti-movement Laurinda Seabra of ASMAA told us.

“Galp/ ENI will have about 10-15 days to respond”, she explained. “Then the judge will take another 10-15 days to analyse. In between, the judge may request further information. We’re banking on at least 20-30 days before the decision is made.

“And then if the embargo is granted, there will need to be a court case.

“That will follow in some months time. We’re talking no drilling this year for sure”.

Seabra stressed the calibre of lawyers behind this latest victory.

“Although there are many good lawyers in Portugal, in our opinion there aren’t many that are truly experienced to argue this type of case, as it requires an in depth knowledge of both contract and administrative law, as well environmental, human rights, etc, but in our opinion the legal practice used by Odemira is one of them”, she said.

The lodging of Odemira’s action will cost the council anything between €40,000 to €60,000 is our guess, she added – which highlights the difficulties so many anti- groups are under.

Campaigners like ASMAA, and FALA (Forum – forum do ambiente do litoral alentejano – the group rallying opposition in the Alentejo) are self-funding. They couldn’t dream of raising €60,000 in the time-frame required.

Happily, this is now academic, and groups have the summer to continue raising awareness and funds.

Seabra told us that ASMAA particularly has irons in the fire so that it is ready for whatever comes through in 2018.

“I have every faith that we’ll get drilling licences revoked, contracts even – but the big deal is to get rid of the concession areas”, she explained. “They’re in place for every inch of coastline, and deep-offshore – and we have to get rid of them”.

In fact, ASMAA is planning to petition every candidate for the municipal elections upcoming in October, asking them simply whether they are pro- or anti- oil.

Answers will be presented in a form of map, so that voters will know who in the Algarve is pro-oil before they cast their votes.

Seabra said polling would be “once only” and “face-to-face”. Undecideds will be marked with a red card, she added, meaning they will appear as “pro-oil”.

Elsewhere, anti-oil platform PALP is also on the case, lodging an “administrative legal action” against the Galp/ ENI consortium independently of Odemira municipality’s.

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