After all the appeals, protests, scientific studies and warnings of looming disaster, Mayor of Lagoa Luís Encarnação has gone ahead with controversial plans to concrete over a floodplain that in winter ‘transforms’ into a freshwater lagoon providing shelter for hundreds of migrating birds.
The battle to save Alagoas Brancas from disappearing under a welter of concrete appears to have been lost.
A council notice posted on October 29 has “authorised the constitution of 11 plots of land to be turned over to use for commerce/ services/ industry”, as well as a 265 sq m area to be taken up by a gas deposit.
There will also be space available for a council warehouse: all the building to be going ahead on land that actually gave the borough of Lagoa its name (lagoon).
Campaigners lamenting what they perceive to be blind greed have been posting their shock and disappointment over social media.
One of the most distressing aspects of this story is that experts who looked into the council’s ‘masterplan’ for this little slice of untouched natural heritage have warned that any kind of building on the site could lead to the area collapsing, and the contamination of aquifers that supply local farms and domestic boreholes (click here).
The 97-page report compiled by technicians from SPEA and researchers at the universities of the Algarve and Lisbon, explained last year “there is a real threat to the stability of this zone as it is a karstic area with active tectonics which could collapse due to excess surface load”.
Yet the council has throughout this civic ‘battle’ appeared determined to carry on regardless.
As one of the many locals who have seemingly fought in vain to save the space has remarked: “Lagoa has no green spaces, no parks, no shade. There are endless roads with no trees. Children’s playgrounds without shade. Instead of concrete, it would be better to plant trees and retain the little bit of nature that still exists; think of the future for our children and grandchildren…”
The trouble, explain others posting on the ‘Save the Alagoas of Lagoa’ Facebook page, is that ‘most of the local people work for the council’ and many do not agree with the plan ‘but say nothing for fear of reprisals’.
No-one seems able to explain WHY the council has refused to see the point of campaigners/ birding specialists, conservationists – even political parties like PAN and Bloco de Esquerda – while the council itself has doggedly fallen back on the argument that the scheme was ‘agreed’ back in 2013, is part of the municipal development plan, and to renege on it now would leave the council liable to compensate developers.
“This is the way they destroy the most beautiful thing you can find: Nature. The insensitivity, autism and miopia of this executive is inexplicable”, said one of the many members on Salvar the Alagoa de Lagoa page.