The outrage over a government decision last month that purportedly allows even more hectares of the Costa Vicentina natural park to be taken over by plastic greenhouses has prompted environmental association ZERO to mount an official challenge.
Explains the NGO in a statement, the move – taken by the Council of Ministers on October 24 – favours “a form of agriculture that is based on the mass use of fertilizers and pesticides and involves long distribution chains before arriving at the final consumer”.
It’s a model that “has no compatibility with the objectives of a natural park”.
ZERO describes its “perplexity” that such a decision could have been made, particularly as the southwestern Alentejo has been transformed by the greenhouses of multinationals, much to the dismay of “those who live there and spend holidays there”.
Social media response cut much deeper.
Said one post being widely shared this week, the decision to increase areas that can be occupied by greenhouses and plastic covering to 4800 hectares implies a three-fold increase in immigrant labour from the current 16,000 mainly Asiatic greenhouse workers, to as many as 48,000 by next year.
“To house them the Portuguese government proposes well-equipped containers with TV, Net and air conditioning … containers in the middle of the natural park, 345,000 sq metres of containers in a protected area. A city of metal for foreigners. Someone will be making huge profits from this business of containers…”
But the ministry of the environment and energetic transition claims critics have ‘got it all wrong’.
Says a statement: “According to the previous rules, 30% of the protected area of the natural park was allowed to be occupied by greenhouses, and cumulatively, up to 80% of the protected area with greenhouses and tunnels”.
The new resolution means that the total area of agricultural production “becomes 40% of which 30% may be greenhouses”.
It’s a statement that has caused further perplexity.