Relief as government steps in over controversial waterfront property law

After months of panic and legal wrangles, the controversial law threatening the ownership of Portugal’s waterfront properties has been turned on its head.
In the nick of time, deadlines that have seen householders throwing their hands up in despair have been scrapped altogether, while elsewhere major changes have been approved – in some cases doing away with the demands of the law altogether.
It is the best result opponents to the “ridiculous” law could have hoped for, campaigner Manuela Netto Rocha told us this week, stressing that success came only after months of concerted pressure.
Rocha’s group of residents in Ericeira dogged policymakers every step of the way, and were present in Parliament to see the changes nodded through.

Meeting in Algarve

As the dust settles finally on a hard-fought year, meetings to explain the news to people are being organised.
In the Algarve, Socialist MP Miguel Freitas has set up a meeting in Albufeira, at the Paços do Conselho town hall building, for Monday May 5 at 5.15pm.
The idea is to clarify all the changes and gather opinions from property owners still affected by the law.
A number of political heavyweights are expected to attend, including Freitas do Amaral, professor at the University of Lisbon, Sebastião Teixeira, regional director of the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA), Fernando Anastácio, Albufeira councillor, Martinho Fortunato, president of Marlagos, and Jorge Botelho, president of the Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL).
Needless to say, it is not an end to the controversy. According to Freitas, Socialists are actually against some of the simplification.
The lack of any kind of deadline is slammed by the Algarve politician and his party, as they believe that deadlines would force the government to complete the clear marking of public domain hydric land boundaries and risky areas in due time.
“There are urban areas in the Algarve where the necessity of proof will be different,” he told us, explaining it all “depends on the risk associated with the land.”
About the law
The law, which dates back to 1864, was designed to ensure the Portuguese state had full use of its waterfront areas for strategic and security reasons.
Lawyers Margarida Osório de Amorim and Andreia Candeias Mousinho, from the law firm PLMJ, told the Resident last year that it derived from a series of royal decrees which established that unless it could be proven otherwise, properties that had not been in private hands for at least 150 years, would be transferred to the Portuguese State.
The law was due to be implemented on January 1 this year but had been postponed until July to allow more time for worried homeowners to obtain the documents they needed.
As homeowners are invited to attend next Monday’s meeting, further clarification of the law as it now stands can be obtained from the Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente (APA): [email protected], or from the Ericeira campaign group on: [email protected]