The shot used by one newspaper to show how close Montijo airport is to an important birding wetland

New airports: Councils lose power to object

President Marcelo passes new law ‘due to overwhelming parliamentary support’

Almost imperceptibly yesterday, councils lost their supreme power to stop an airport being sited in their area if they object to it.

In the flurry of a presidential signature, the hold-up that blocked the government from forging ahead with the extremely unpopular idea of a new Lisbon airport at Montijo has been dismantled.

Coming in a week when focus was on billionaires suspected of having defrauded telecoms giant Altice of hundreds of millions of euros/ when wildfires in Greece were gripping international headlines and when hundreds of thousands of visitors began arriving for World Youth Day in a week’s time, the newsbite was practically ignored. But what it means is that local municipalities threatened by national ambitions will have a lot less power now than they had in the past.

President Marcelo explained his ‘rubber stamping’ with the “very large majority” that voted in parliament for it. By this he referred to PS Socialists – who have an absolute majority – backed by CHEGA, writes Lusa. But all the other main parties either abstained (PSD/ IL) or voted against (PCP/ Left Bloc).

Under the terms of the new law, only a veto from one of the Commissions for Regional Coordination and Development could scotch a government plan, no matter how much local people/ engineers/ environmentalists might be against it.

Now, the government simply has to wait for the conclusions of the technical commission set up to study the various options for Lisbon’s new airport, before making its decision.

It has to be said that the objections that stymied the original plan to install an airport in Montijo stemmed from consequences likely on citizens’ health/ well-being that were never disputed.

[email protected]