On the last day of parliamentary business before Christmas, MPs voted for a ‘draft resolution’ recommending the government “immediately suspends” controversial dredging in the ‘protected’ Sado river estuary.
The vote went ahead against a noisy backdrop of protestors chanting: “Reserva Natural não é para capital” (loosely translating into ‘a natural reserve isn’t for big business”).
The draft resolution, presented by PEV (the Green Party) was supported by PCP communists, Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc), PAN, LIVRE and the PSD.
(PS Socialists and the CDS-PP voted against, and Chega and Iniciativa Liberal abstained.)
Say campaigners: “For everyone involved in this fight that has already lasted more than a year, the vote today is more confirmation of the correctness of this struggle and the value of its claims”.
As we have explained before, environmentalists and civic groups say the removal of millions of cubic tons of silt in the estuary will indelibly destroy one of the countries signature ‘marine prairies’: underwater ‘universes’ that function as a ‘refuge’ for the feeding and reproduction of countless species, including a pod of bottle-nosed dolphins (click here).
MPs in parliament queried the government’s zeal in forging ahead with dredging when there has been so much public opposition and when court bids to stop it “are still to be decided”.
Positive as it was, however, Friday’s vote hasn’t managed to change anything … yet.
Facebook group SOS Sado explains, it’s not binding. But it does serve as “a strong signal” to the government” that MPs agree with locals – there’s something very opaque in the way this entire process has been handled.
Calling for “urgent scrutiny, dialogue and clarification with populations and affected interests”, SOS Sado says it is “fundamental” that the way the Environmental Impact Assessment was handled be reviewed – particularly bearing in mind recommendations from the University of Aveiro (carrying out a study requested by the government) that the estuary should be given added protection status.
“These recommendations clash directly with this dredging project, and that is why the fact that they have been totally ignored raises all sorts of suspicions about the real interests of the government”, says SOS Sado – stressing delays in defining special protection zones have already seen the Court of Justice in the European Union condemn the Portuguese State (click here).
Thus, pressure remains high. The rallying call to all those who want to protect the signature river from further ‘destruction’ is: “It’s time to end the greedy industrial blindness of economic interests that seek to override citizens’ rights to enjoy the unparalleled wealth of the Sado estuary”.
“In the courts, in the streets, in the Sado: the struggle continues!”.
Image: from SOS Sado Facebook page: protesters outside parliament on Friday