Portimão court to consider Ria de Alvor “eco-vandal’s” appeal bid

If he thinks he can dodge environmentalists and sell-out to the Chinese for millions, bankrupt Portuguese property mogul and football boss Aprígio Santos may be pulled up short. Portimão court sat today to hear arguments over his company’s “request for dismissal” of the condemnation received for environmental crimes at the rolling rural estate of Quinta da Rocha between the years of 2006-2010.

Against this backdrop, Portimão Câmara has yet to decide on a plan put forward by Santos for luxury hotels and tourist villages on the property.

Portimão Câmara is known to favour the idea of “more tourist beds”- but as the GARdA group made up of environmentalists at A Rocha, Almargem, Geota, LPN, SPEA and Quercus has explained, the legal ramifications would be “enormous”.

“There are huge environmental constraints,” long-term campaigner with the A Rocha conservation association Marcial Felgueiras told us recently, when news emerged that Santos was showing the property to China’s largest owner/operator of commercial real estate, the Wanda Group .

“Santos made a huge mistake when he bought the property,” Felgueiras added, as though it might look like a plot of prime real estate, it represents one of the last jewels of unspoilt wetland on the south coast and as such is something every environmental group is determined to protect.

According to press reports today, Santos’ firm Butwell, which owns Quinta da Rocha, has alleged that the site’s protected species were not on the official deeds of the property.

The argument is to be decided by the court on May 22 at 12.30pm.

Thus, for the time being at least, environmentalists’ battle to preserve Quinta da Rocha’s protected habitats is “safe”.

Eyes now are on Portimão Câmara – still “analysing” a recent development bid from Santos whose property empire is understood to have debts “in the region of €598 million”, according to Correio da Manhã.

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