“No time or money” to investigate alternatives to Montijo as Lisbon’s second airport

Montijo airport: hope at last for anti-campaigners who say plan is utter madness

Hope has come at last for the myriad campaigners fighting plans for a new airport at Montijo Air Base (on the south bank of the Tejo below Lisbon).

The consequences of the pandemic have already added years to the capacity of Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado airport – and ongoing wrangles in parliament over the budget mean PS Socialists are ‘open to concessions’.

Thus the proposal by minority parties PAN and PEV (the Greens) that the government not only performs the strategic environmental impact study it has finally agreed to, but that it look at ‘other options’ – meaning other sites entirely for the airport designed to take Lisbon’s ‘overspill’.

Up until the pandemic hit, ‘other options’ – ones that did not involve threatening a marshland bird sanctuary – had been wiped from the government’s agenda.

“There is no more time or money to investigate alternatives” infrastructures minister Pedro Nuno Santos said in January – riding over well-founded objections (click here) and equally informed proposals for less environmentally damaging alternatives (click here).

This is one major infrastructure project in which the pandemic may have ‘worked some magic’.

As Observador remarks: “Since 2018 the government has refused to look at other options with the argument that pressure on (Lisbon) airport doesn’t give it time to study solutions involving the construction of an airport from scratch”.

Covid-19 however has decimated air travel to the point that “only from 2024 are flights expected to return to 2019 levels”.

In other words there is time. PAN and PEV’s proposal won approval yesterday, even though the PS tried to block it.

Campaigners will be rejoicing – and the threatened marshlands used by hundreds of migratory birds will be left in peace for at least a little while longer.

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