Loulé council denies oil companies helicopter access

Sticking firmly to its policy of ‘zero tolerance’ over oil and gas exploration in the Algarve, Loulé council has denied the Repsol/ Partex concession permission to use the town’s heliport.

According to Sulinformação website, the concession has asked for permission to keep a chopper at the heliport, so that medical evacuations and other forms of support can service the drill-ship that will be stationed offshore “between the months of September and October”.

But the council “means to submit a negative report”, says the website.

Loulé does not want to see itself associated in any way with prospection activity, mayor Vítor Aleixo has explained.

It helps that Aleixo is also the president of the Algarve’s regional council and one of 16 mayors who have affirmed their vehement opposition to any kind of oil-related activities.

AMAL, the region’s association of municipalities, has already confirmed that it will “vest itself of all legal means that will help revert the processes underway, bearing in mind the grave consequences they could bring, putting the quality of life and economy, especially tourism, at risk”.

But how effective these attempts to shake the government into rescinding contracts in place remains to be seen.

As one of the many groups fighting Portugal’s great oil carve-up has explained, it is incredibly difficult legally to do so.

Even the ‘slam dunk’ case for throwing out onshore contracts with Portfuel, the company set up by Portuguese millionaire Sousa Cintra, has failed this far to succeed.

But showing true grit, AMAL voted on Monday to boost its legal fund battling the issue by another €8,500.

As Sousa Cintra has been moved to complain in print, in all the years that oil exploration has been mooted, this is the first time public opposition “has assumed such a dimension”.

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