The coalition government’s insistence that hundreds of homes on Culatra island must be demolished in the name of the environment came up against another judicial brick wall this week as Loulé’s administrative court upheld a further 41 embargos lodged by homeowners.
With these new rulings in place, 164 homes on the Farol “nucleus” of the island are now spared the wrecking ball as local campaigner and parish councillor Feliciano Júlio says time is finally on the islanders’ side.
The reviled “Sociedade Polis” in charge of demolition plans was due for extinction last year, but extended by government decree until December 2015.
Even so, Júlio has told Lusa he doubts the entity will have time for its massive demolition plan.
It is a problem, he hopes, that “even the next government will be unable to resolve”.
Islanders are now ready to enter into “open dialogue” with politicians if the government changes as a result of elections just 10 days away.
There is little chance of dialogue, however, if the ruling coalition manages a majority return, he warned.
“There is no dialogue,” Júlio explained. “Their only (assertion) is to tear everything down without one plausible or credible argument.”
Talking to the Resident earlier this month, campaigner and “islander” Vanessa Morgado said the government’s insistence on demolition stems from the fact that “Polis has spent millions and now realises it needs to justify the fact that all the money has gone”.
There were rumblings in April about “missing” accounts (see Ria Formosa update: call for resignation of “demolition man” Sebastião Teixeira), and constant allusion to the fact that this demolition exercise is a ruse to wipe fishing families off the islands to make way for “sustainable quality tourism”.
PSD MPs have already paved the way by passing a motion calling for the island to be “recognised” in this regard.
But for now, islanders have received new wind beneath their wings.
Loulé judges further advanced their cause by accepting a second embargo, citing the need to protect the island’s chameleon population from the consequences of demolition.
Olhão’s “islanders’ hero” mayor António Pina had lodged a similar embargo in April – contested by the government on the grounds that Olhão had nothing to do with Farol nucleus.
Thus this new coup ensures the embargo sticks.
For the background to this story, see: “Barefaced lies” – The truth behind environmental plans to cleanse Ria Formosa of its resident islanders
And for a feel-good protest that went down in local history for being the Algarve’s largest, see this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDFQSQU2_i0#sthash.TdrqLlBm.dpuf