The last chunk of prime ‘greenbelt’ Algarve coastline is now being enthusiastically marketed by global property consultancy CBRE.
A lavish video setting out the concept for the 230 hectare site loses no time in proclaiming its ‘ex-libris’ (as principal attractions are often referred to here), the birding paradise of Lagoa dos Salgados.
The Praia Grande Eco-Resort is the very same project that united over 33,000 bird-watchers and nature lovers from all over the world to sign the largest environmental petition in Portugal’s history: Protect Salgados for the Future.
At the time, the land was owned by a Lisbon-based company Finalgarve, a subsidiary of the Galilei group, struggling to emerge from the toxic ashes of the BPN banking scandal.
Galilei and Finalgarve are now no more – and a former corporation spokesperson told us from Lisbon this morning that this is why the project is now in the ownership of BCP Millenium.
“Things with Galilei and its companies went from bad to worse”, he added. “Maybe, just maybe, BCP as a creditor took over Finalgarve’s assets”.
Whatever the details – and we haven’t been able to confirm them due to the unofficial Bank Holiday – the sale is now in the hands of CBRE which is hoping to see hands shaking over a €200 million price tag.
What CBRE has not said in its marketing blurb is that there are still huge questions over the licensing of any future development, given that the original environmental impact study was successfully exposed for being a sham (click here).
There are also issues over the legality of ‘ring-facing’ 2km of beach for the use of resort guests – and there is still the matter of a court injunction over the existence on the site of a rare orchid.
The Resident is hoping to talk to CBRE’s promotion director Francisco Sottomayor when business ‘returns to normal’ after the Papal long weekend, but for now the project is being plugged as “one of the principal touristic projects for the development of the Algarve” – which is precisely what anti-campaigners had been insisting it wasn’t when the initial campaign launched in 2012.
In those days, the feeling was that the last thing the Algarve coast needed was another major hotel development that would stand empty for large parts of the year, while destroying important aspects of Nature.
The threat of mass-tourism on the fragile ecosystem of Salgados wetland was paramount in campaigners minds – and, up till now, the fact that no development has taken place has left Nature to flourish.
How this will change following today’s news is what remains to be seen.
For a look at CBRE’s promotional video, (click here):
For a reminder of the environmental campaign, the Save Salgados petition is still online and still today amassing signatures: (click here).
Finally, English language website Algarvedailynews reminds readers that Millennium BCP is “controlled by China’s Fosun group which now owns 30% of the stock.
“Another shareholder is Angola’s (State) oil company Sonangol”, says the site – which has been authorised by the European Central Bank to raise its stake in Millennium from 14.9% to about 30%”.
Sonangol has had repeated pastings in the international press for “literally billions of dollars in oil revenue” that have bypassed Angola’s central bank and remain unaccounted for.
Algarvedaily news explains that: “In December 2011, Human Rights Watch said that the government of Angola should explain the whereabouts of US$32 billion missing from government funds linked to Sonangol”.
According to Reuters, Angolan State news agency Angop refuted Human Rights Watch’s report, saying there was a discrepancy in accounts but that the government believed this was a result of insufficient records.