PORTUGUESE MINISTER of Public Works, Mário Lino, admitted on Monday that he had had a change of heart over the location of Lisbon’s new international airport at Alcochete following the publication of last week’s comparative studies favouring it over Ota.
The foot-in-mouth minister, who weeks ago swore “never, never, never” to Alcochete, caused smiles and laughs among several hundred invited guests when he told them that he was a “determined and unwavering man” when it came to making his mind up.
The minister once again said that he had changed his mind over the location of Alcochete for the new airport following the publication of the National Civil Engineering Laboratory (LNEC) comparative studies which clearly came down in favour of Alcochete.
The minister also said that he had no intention of standing down from his post nor saw reasons to do so following calls for his dismissal and resignation from Paulo Portas’ conservative CDS-PP party.
The minister, who said he had made the “never, never” comments because he had lost his temper with journalists, was addressing a luncheon organised by the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce (BPCC), with the participation of the French, Dutch and German Chambers of Commerce.
The minister began by delivering a concise and well-written speech about his government’s overall economic record and performance in public works investment in the past few years before going on to discuss what those in the room had really come to hear – about the airport.
“With courage and a sense of responsibility, we have finally decided where Lisbon’s new international airport should be, and we’ve done it – I say again – in a responsible and stately manner,” he said.
Mário Lino said that Portugal’s 17th constitutional government had always made the new Lisbon airport “a priority”. He said that up until the comparative studies were published, all other studies had shown that Ota had been the best one. “Put simply, at the end of the first half of 2007, there was a new move in the analysis and decision, which materialised in the presentation of a new technical study which pointed to the possibility of constructing the airport at the Alcochete firing range (Campo de Tiro), a place which up until then had not been the object of studies in the new Lisbon airport decision-making process.
“The LNEC study was very clear in its conclusions and, from a technical and financial point of view, was generally the better choice,” he concluded.
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