Residents’ limited victory in pylon feud


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NATIONAL electricity company REN has suspended the construction of pylons in the Vale Fuzeiros area in Silves after the Minister of Economy decided that an alternative route should be found.

During protests by around 100 residents of Vale Fuzeiros in Largo Camões, near the Ministry of Economy in Lisbon on December 6, Manuel Pinho, Minister of Economy, spoke to the president of REN, José Penedos.

“There will be an alternative route,” Manuel Pinho told waiting journalists, adding: “REN is willing to find a solution that is closer to the residents’ wishes as long as the Environment Ministry accepts it.”

The minister also said, however, that more pylons will have to be erected throughout the country in the near future because the government is making a great effort to invest in new forms of energy.

False argument

A spokesman for REN said: “We have suspended the work in Vale Fuzeiros and re-started the study of an alternative pylon route further north. This alternative has been presented to Silves Câmara and is now awaiting an environmental impact declaration to be issued by the Ministry of the Environment and Land Management.”

The spokesman also said that the alternative route supported by the local population of Vale Fuzeiros enters the Rede Natura 2000, an area designated for the conservation of habitats and endangered or vulnerable species within the EU. For this reason, REN has refused to consider the northern route proposed by Silves Câmara and the Vale Fuzeiros residents, saying that its legality could be questioned in Europe.

“REN is using a false argument because they do not want to go further north with the pylons,” Sérgio Santos, a spokesman for and resident of Vale Fuzeiros, told The Resident. “The Rede Natura 2000 is no longer classified as such because the habitats were destroyed by fires in 2003.”

Sérgio Santos also told The Resident that throughout the meetings that he had attended with members from the Environmental Ministry, none had ever presented any arguments against the alternative route because of the Rede Natura 2000.

“REN’s pylons cross parts of Rede Natura 2000 in other parts of the Algarve, it is not illegal to do so either,” said Sérgio Santos.

Vale Fuzeiros residents are determined to continue pressuring REN and the government to approve an acceptable alternative route for the pylons and are prepared to carry out new protests if necessary.

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