The steely determination of bird-lovers and conservationists to save Alagoas Brancas, Lagoa’s signature freshwater lagoon, has seen a bid for a judicial embargo presented to Loulé’s administrative and fiscal court (TAF).
If successful it will stop a long-contested plan to concrete over the haven used by hundreds of migrating birds every year in order to construct storage warehouses and ‘logistical back-up’ for nearby supermarkets (click here).
In this crucial re-election year Mayor Luís Encarnação has attempted to dismiss the bid – telling reporters that in the new town plan (PDM) which his council “hopes to see approved by the end of the month, or at least by June”, the space will pass to becoming rural land/ rustic “and when the urbanisation plan falls, and the new town plan enters into effect, there will be no constructive capacity (on the site) at all”.
Campaigners however see this as ‘cynicism’, and are therefore ‘sticking to the legal route’.
Says Rui Amores, a key figure in this fight by dint of being a lawyer, “Mr Encarnação knows, or at least he should”, that while a new PDM “which will supposedly reclassify the area is not in effect”, the old PDM will determine what happens – and eco-group Almargem and Cidade da Participação are not prepared to take that risk.
As it is Mr Amores queries the sense in reclassifying the area as ‘rustic’, when it should be given special ecological reserve status, particularly as a result of the report by Almargem (which municipal authorities have done their best to ignore) which warns not just of the flood risk of the area, but that of total collapse if structures are built on top of it (click here).
Whatever happens next will determine the future of Alagoas Brancas.
Says Público, parties should be cited soon to present their arguments (either for or against) and then TAF will set a date to hear witnesses.
The tactics are indeed to stall a plan that campaigners have every intention of winning in order to save what truly is one of the Algarve’s last natural wetland areas – and an historic one at that, in that it gave its name to the town of Lagoa and could so easily be used to promote bird-watching tourism instead of being turned into another wasteland of concrete to support consumerism.