Montijo gets airport ‘go-ahead’ conditional on €48 million pay-out

Montijo airport has won the authorisation it needs to transform into Lisbon’s No 2 passenger terminal.

APA, the Portuguese environment agency, has finally given the controversial project the green light, conditional on a €48 million compensation pay-out.

ANA airports authority – the main sponsors of the plan – will now have 10 days to study APA’s conditions and respond.

For environmentalists and campaigners who have long argued that Montijo is the worst possible place for a busy passenger terminal, the decision flies in the face of everything sensible.

Said lawyer Rui Amores, currently battling environmental issues in the Algarve: “APA should be dismantled to make way for something decent”.

APA meantime maintains that it considered three main issues before giving ANA’s Environmental Impact Assessment the green-light it needs: the effects of jet planes coming and going so close to an important birding wetland, the noise levels their existence will generate and mobility issues.

Regarding the first, measures of mitigation will involve ANA reserving a 2,500 hectare space for migratory birds to feed and nest and funding the purchase of alternative areas (saltpans etc), to the tune of €7.2 million ‘initially’, followed by an annual injection of €200 million “during the life-span of the airport”.

In other words, APA is running with the plan – ridiculed by critics – of telling the birds to ‘buzz off’ (click here).

The compensation ‘deal’ was leaked to the press earlier this week and quantified as a €4.5 toll on every airplane movement in and out of the airport once it is up and running.

Regarding increased noise levels, APA’s ‘okay’ involves ANA agreeing not to fly planes in after midnight and before 6am, and ensuring that flights during the remaining hours “adopt the least noisy landing and take-off procedures”.

The airport authority is also expected to fund the acoustic-insulation of public and private buildings to the tune of €15-20 million – and spend a further €10 million in creating new accesses to the Vasco da Gama bridge, and buying two new ferries so that the Transtejo service can ‘reinforce the link between Cais do Seixalinho (on the Montijo side) to Lisbon”.

Reaction from the project’s main opponents has yet to come, at which time this story will be updated.

Comments over social media however have been scathing.

There remains a degree of uncertainty however.

Negocios online has revealed that ANA is “surprised and apprehensive” over the list of APA’s conditions.

A source has said the airports authority will now analyse the full document (yet to be uploaded onto APA’s website) and reply within the legally-defined time limit.

For full details of the Montijo airport expansion plan, click here.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com