By: Natasha Smith
FARO CÂMARA President José Apolinário has raised environmental concerns over the planned construction of a man-made island off the coast of Vale do Lobo.
Apolinário sent a letter to the Minister for the Environment, Francisco Nunes Correia, questioning the potential effects that the construction of Nautilus Island, proposed by Vale do Lobo, would have on the Algarvean coast.
He believes that the island and the underground tunnel, which will provide access to the course for golfers with buggies, will increase coastal erosion between Ancão and Faro.
In his letter, he requested the minister’s position on the construction project.
Apolinário said that he had his doubts about the dimensions of the island and believed that the construction would affect ocean currents, with a knock-on effect on sand movement and deposits.
He said there was no guarantee that the underwater tunnel would trap sand and eventually create a sand bar between the island and the coast and that the island and tunnel could have a great impact on sand patterns and interrupt its natural flow and deposit.
He believes this could leave the coast more vulnerable to erosion and asked the minister to investigate this matter.
Apolinário also wanted to know how far the project has come in terms of licence approval and the studies that had been conducted.
The man-made island, 500m off the Vale do Lobo coast, will be in the shape of two shells and has been named Nautilus Island. An 18-hole golf course, an underwater restaurant and a hotel are planned for construction, as well as 700 to 1,000 homes.
A monorail from the mainland and a heliport on top of one of the two largest buildings are also planned. Sander van Gelder, former owner of Vale do Lobo, told The Resident in November that he did not foresee any backlash from environmental associations because Vale do Lobo was going to do everything in its power to preserve the ocean.
The island would naturally reduce coastal erosion by deterring the natural tidal flow from stripping sand from the beaches in the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, which is a stretch of conservation land along the coastline from Ancão to Tavira, and the concept of the island was in many ways to offer a solution to coastal erosion.
A spokesperson for Vale do Lobo said, extensive “studies are currently being conducted”, the results of which will be reviewed by the Environment Minister.
The Resident spoke to Nuno Grade from the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, who said: “The size of the island could be detrimental to the coast, but at the same time it may not be. We can better judge the situation when the results from the studies have been revealed.”
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