Photo: Michael Bruxo/Open Media

Lagoa “surprised” by government stance on Alagoas Brancas

Council says decision of changing laws is not the responsibility of local authorities

Lagoa Council has expressed its “surprise” over the government’s stance on the hot topic of Alagoas Brancas, a local wetland site under threat of being destroyed forever.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Secretary of State for Nature Conservation, João Paulo Catarino, said the government was available to “find a solution to manage and safeguard the wetland site”.

However, he clarified that any decision to halt the project would have to come from the local council.

“It is with satisfaction that we hear the government show its total availability to preserve Alagoas Brancas. But we were very surprised to hear the secretary of state say that the decision is up to the council, because the decision of changing laws is certainly not up to local councils,” said Lagoa Mayor Luís Encarnação in a statement released this Monday.

The council reiterated that the project dates back to the municipality’s urbanisation plan (PU), approved in 2008 with no protests or issues raised and with positive reports from key institutions such as the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA), the Algarve Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR Algarve) and the Institute of Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF).

Despite the vehement protests that erupted after the project started moving forward, the council always maintained that cancelling development plans for the area would leave the council in financial ruin.

However, the council is now saying that it will revoke all the “legally approved” plans so long as the government “clearly authorises it” by publishing a decree law or law in the State gazette Diário da República and by taking over the responsibility of compensating the developer.

If the matter is simple for the government, it will be simple for the council as well. Change the law, cover any compensation owed to the developer and the decision will be made,” the local mayor guaranteed.

By Michael Bruxo

[email protected]