Photo: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media

Portimão port expansion “needs further studies”

… according to Ferragudo parish council president Luís Alberto

The president of Ferragudo parish council has called for further studies to be carried out into the project to expand Portimão’s cruise port.

Luís Alberto believes that a “financial-economic viability” study should be launched to establish whether the expansion is truly necessary.

He also called for a new environmental impact study to assess the impact of the expanded port’s day-to-day impact (previous environmental impact studies have only looked at the impact of the dredging work that would be required in the Arade River).

His statements came after being called to Parliament to speak to the Commission of Economy, Innovation, Public Works and Housing as the representative of a petition against the project, launched in 2020 and which has since amassed over 4,300 signatures.

Ferragudo parish council president Luís Alberto present his case to the Commission of Economy, Innovation, Public Works and Housing

Despite having been significantly scaled down from its first draft, Luís Alberto believes that the project still poses some issues.

The initial version of the project involved carrying out dredging work in the Arade River to expand Portimão port’s navigation channel to welcome cruise ships measuring 334 metres in length.

It was widely criticised upon its announcement, with locals in Ferragudo fearing it would cause “irreparable damage” to the riverside village and destroy the river’s archaeological heritage.

There were also concerns that the plan to use the sand which had been dredged to replenish local beaches would ruin their idyllic charm forever, and that the project could spell the end of plans to build a long-awaited marina in Ferragudo.

Some of these worries have been addressed after the project’s first environmental impact study received a thumbs down and the second was approved but with a few conditions.

The Sines and Algarve Port Administration (APS) has guaranteed that the river’s archaeological findings will be preserved, while two environmental impact studies were carried out to evaluate the impact of the dredging work and the navigation channel expansion.

However, Luís Alberto believes that the day-to-day impact of the expanded port should also be subjected to further scrutiny, he told Lusa news agency.

The parish council boss supports studying the “economic-financial” viability of the project, stressing that “nobody is against the expansion of the (navigation) channel, because a river that is not dredged and from which sediments aren’t removed is a dead river.”

He also pointed out that several international ports are “reducing the number of cruise ships” that are docking there due to environmental reasons, which is something that “should be taken into account in this case.”

Alberto also recommended the installation of a shore-to-ship power solution at the port, which is due to be set up until 2030 and would allow the port to supply energy to ships, allowing them to turn off their motors when they are docked.

The project has changed a lot in two years, the parish council president said, stressing how the length of cruises allowed after the expansion works has been reduced from 334 metres to 272 – just 40 metres more than the current limit of 230.

Alberto also said that the initial draft of the project featured two maneuver basins – one in front of Praia Grande and another in front of the port, the first of which has been removed from the current project.

By Michael Bruxo

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