Construction stops as judge reconsiders permissions behind “Na Praia” resort
A bid to “save one of the last stretches of untouched Iberian coastline” has seen a Beja judge call a temporary halt on construction work.
Judge Ana Casa Branca has given Grândola council – and investors, which include Spanish heiress Sandra Ortega – 10 days to defend their position against the case put by citizens movement Dunas Livres, backed by multiple NGOs.
This for now is another David v. Goliath environmental fight, with David so far surpassing all the odds: the costs of lodging the ‘providência cautelar’ (embargo) came through a crowdfunding campaign, and the message that if this development is goes forwards, ancient habitats will be lost forever.
The project has been shrouded in controversy since day one, explain reports. Eight environmental organisations complained that earth-moving on the 340-hectare site began before the council issued a construction licence. The Dunas Livres Platform formed, describing the situation as “a necessary fight against the exponential rise of megaprojects of luxury tourism that are being approved and built left and right, on top of ancient dunes, ignoring what should be areas protected by national and European law.
“Not only is the natural environment at stake, but social and economic impacts are felt. The local population is dwindling, and real estate investment and inflation do nothing but worsen an abandoned and rural Portugal, jeopardised by drought…”
NGOs Quercus, Zero, Ocean Alive, SPEA and Associação Iris cited “very significant impacts on ecological systems, in addition to coastal risks, pressure on water resources, soil, air and landscape.
“The construction of the development calls into question 200 hectares of rare and sensitive habitats, very rich in biodiversity, with several protected species of flora”, said the injunction filed last week.
Even the Institution for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) confirmed that it has already verified destruction of protected natural values.
Thus the fight is on: crowdfunding continues, and it is up to the council and developers to plead their case.
Sandra Ortega’s first investment in Portugal
According to newsinsetubal.nit, Na Praia is Sandra Ortega’s first large investment in Portugal.
The daughter of the founder of multimillion Inditex, owning brands like Zara, Ms Ortega purchased three plots of land on the Troia-Melides ‘Blue Coast’ from Sonae Capital in 2018. Talk of a luxury development began even before this date.
Says newsinsetubal.nit, “in a first phase, the Inditex heiress focused on reforestation and the recovery of the dunes, a process that involved the removal of eucalyptus planted in the 60s, substituting them for pines. The 5-star resort will have a hotel, three tourist villages, two sports and leisure complexes. In total there will be 123 units of tourist accommodation, offering 506 beds. The plan is that everything will be concluded by the middle of 2024”.