With oil and gas drilling ‘back on the agenda’ for the Costa Vicentina – from Sines all the way round to Lagos on the south coast – activists have launched a last-ditch campaign to raise the necessary funds to fight it.
ASMAA – the Lagos-based citizens’ rights group – is planning a raft of legal actions to tackle all the threats suddenly stacked up on the horizon.
As of last month, GALP/ ENI – which holds contracts for three concessions running alongside seven municipal boroughs – announced licences were in place for exploratory drilling in each area (click here) early next year.
This was despite the filing of three previous injunctions (lodged by Algarve mayors’ association AMAL, the municipality of Odemira and PALP – the platform of anti-oil NGOs), a 42,000-strong petition signed by residents of all nationalities as well as seasonal visitors, and numerous anti-oil protests and demonstrations (click here).
ASMAA therefore is drawing up a ‘focused attack’, with the help of environmental lawyers and advisors.
“All the injunctions that came before have helped as we have been able to analyse the points and the other sides’ answers”, explained the group’s founder Laurinda Seabra.
“This is a drastic action on our part”, she told us. “We will be taking the Portuguese government to court for breaching our constitutional rights.
“As citizens, we have the right to a future, the right to a clean environment and healthy local economy.
“These rights are being viewed as immaterial. The government and the oil companies are preparing to go ahead no matter what.
“As human beings, we just cannot turn a blind eye to what is an attack on future generations’ survival and sustainability”.
“The time to act is now, and we are busy raising the necessary funds.
“So far, we have €12,000 in pledges, raised €1,800 in donations and we’re hoping to raise another €6500 before we make our submission”.
For now, the nuts and bolts of ASMAA’s legal approach is being kept quiet. It has been two years in the making, involving “endless sleepless nights” of tactical-thinking.
Said Seabra: “The oil companies always made out that they were focusing primarily on Santola (the concession 46 kms outside Aljezur), and consequently that was the basis of the previous legal bids (providências cautelar).
“But we had this feeling things would change at the last minute – and they have.
“We’re planning a much broader challenge, but until we submit our arguments, we need to keep them quiet”.
The group is meeting with its legal team next week, and hopes to lodge its bids mid-December.
The bottom line is not simply to stop drilling on the Costa Vicentina, but to throw a spanner-in-the-works of all the concessions mapped out in Portugal, both on- and offshore.
Donations to the fight can be paid into the group’s bank account. See http://asmaa-algarve.org/en/donate