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Nautilus Island proposal rejected

By: Natasha Smith

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PLANS TO construct a manmade island off the coast of Vale do Lobo have been rejected by the Minister for the Environment, Francisco Nunes Correia.

Studies were conducted at the request of Correia and his decision to reject the proposal was based on the findings. Researchers concluded that the construction of an island off the coast of Vale do Lobo, which had been named Nautilus Island, could be detrimental to the Algarve coast. They said it was likely that it would increase coastal erosion rather than reduce it, as Vale do Lobo had claimed would be the case at the time the proposal was submitted last September.

Correia expressed his opposition to the project last week and revealed the findings of the studies conducted by the National Laboratory of Civil Engineering and the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Porto. They concluded that, while the island would protect the Vale do Lobo coast, it was likely to have negative consequences on the Ria Formosa coastline, from Ancão to the Spanish border.

During the press conference, Correia said: “Based on this preliminary evaluation, our attitude is against the continuation of this project,” to which he added that Vale do Lobo had already been notified.

The Environment Minister did admit that the island could potentially reduce the aggressiveness of the sea, but a construction of this magnitude had more hindrances. The island construction project would also cause problems in terms of jurisdiction, in that a private company intended to build in a public area – the sea.

The Resident spoke to staff at Loulé Câmara, who admitted that they were “not surprised by the Minister for the Environment’s decision” and that câmara president, Seruca Emídio, had expressed doubts that the project would be approved. Prior to the acquisition of funds, the Vale do Lobo Group of Companies submitted plans to the Ministry for the Environment to construct a manmade island 500m out to sea. Vale do Lobo asked for a preliminary evaluation of the potential viability of the island from the ministry before it formally presented the project.

A hotel, underwater restaurant, 18-hole golf course and between 700 and 1,000 apartments and villas were part of the plans for the island. An underwater tunnel from the mainland to the island for golfers and their buggies was also planned. After the announcement was made by Correia, The Resident contacted staff at Vale do Lobo, who declined to comment.

Many believe that in light of the current coastal erosion debate in Portugal, it is unlikely that any projects such as Nautilus Island will be approved.

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