By: Ruth Sharpe and Natasha Smith
MORE THAN 100 Silves residents held a protest last Sunday, opposing the installation of electricity pylons due to be constructed in the Vale Fuzeiros area.
A meeting between some of the concerned residents and Silves Câmara President, Isabel Soares, took place last week, when the possibility of changing the proposed location for the installation of the pylons was discussed.
According to Steven Webster, a local resident, the original proposed route for the pylons passed alongside the reservoir in the area. Allegedly, electricity company REN, in an effort to cut costs, proposed the route.
Residents are annoyed that they have been kept in the dark about the plans. “We were taken completely by surprise,” said Sérgio Santos, a resident of Vale Fuzeiros, who is one of more than 300 locals to have signed a petition in opposition to the location of the pylons. “It has been announced by the câmara, but no one was told anything. We should have been contacted.
“It is going to pass through my estate, very close to my house. We want to promote rural tourism, but this does not give us the chance,” he said.
Those who reside in the farmland between Casa Queimada and Pedreiras agree that the electricity lines, which will link electric substations between Portimão and Tunes, are necessary, but believe that the proposed location does not make any sense. “It could be put just a few kilometres further north and no one would be affected as it is mainly hills and undeveloped land,” said Francisco Martins.
According to Santos, three foreigners have already put their houses up for sale. The proposed plans are to have an impact on property values, which will have a negative knock-on effect for the local community.
Those who have already signed the petition have highlighted the different ways in which the pylons will affect the community. English resident Norman Whittle has had a 45 hectare piece of land for six years in Vale Fuzeiros. “I really like it here, it’s a really beautiful landscape, with good restaurants,” he says. “My objective was to invest six million euros into a rural tourist project. If these pylons are installed, I will not go ahead with it.”
The pylons will equally have a detrimental effect on the local Portuguese community. Restaurant owner António Sequeira financed the opening of his own restaurant, but now runs the risk of losing clients due to the installation of the pylons. “A big part of my clients are foreigners, especially the English who live here. They will now move away to other areas and it will be damaging for the economy of our area.”
Vale Fuzeiros boasts ancient tombs from the Bronze Age and is, therefore, an archaeologically significant area.
A decision about whether to alter the route had not been made by the câmara at the time of going to press.
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