The latest swoop by authorities on ‘wild campers’ in beachside hideaways within the protected Costa Vicentina resulted in dozens of people receiving fines last Saturday.
Authorities concentrated this time on the municipalities of Aljezur and Vila do Bispo – both of them overrun every summer by camper vans, caravans, people pitching tents, even sleeping in the back of their cars.
According to Faro Territorial Command, a total of 81 offences were drawn up for illegal camping: 34 for so-called ‘wild camping’, and motorhomes found in ‘places where they are not permitted’; 47 for overnight parking (also prohibited in the area which is part of the ‘natural park’ of southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina (PNSACV).
A note put out by the GNR refers to the “negative consequences to the landscape, environment and public health” of ‘excessive occupation of coastal areas’, saying the force will continue to make campers aware that they should behave better “especially in these protected areas”.
The problem is that despite these ‘awareness initiatives’, people never seem to learn – leading to real frustration on the part of locals who object mostly to the rubbish that is always left behind, not to mention the mounds of human excrement.
A communiqué issue by the ICNF (forestries institute), agents of which were involved in the Saturday crack-down, admitted that “notwithstanding the various actions carried out throughout the year” – all of them focused on “encouraging compliance with applicable legal and regulatory standards” – the beaches of Barranco, Ingrina, Zavial, Boca do Rio, Odeceixe, Vale dos Homens, Amoreira, Monte Clérigo, Atalaia, Arrifana, Bordeira, Pontal da Carrapateira and Amado were all overrun with people who presumably believed no-one would come along and call them out.
According to the ICNF, the problem “has been getting worse and gaining worrying proportions as a result of the pandemic”.
The institute recalls that it issued a new regulation in May, allowing for the installation of approved camper service areas (known in Portugal as ASAs) within the PNSACV, as well as in other areas protected under Natura 2000 legislation. But “to date not one licensing request has been received”.
To recap: rules for campers in the PNSACV area are that beachside camping and overnight parking is not authorised. People doing so will be liable to fines, and as various groups discovered on Saturday, could see their tents confiscated.
Motorhomes are allowed to overnight outside of approved ASAs and/ or campsites, but only as long as they are 2kms from the coast, and as long as they do not stay in the same spot for more than 48-hours.