Solar panels could become law

President Jorge Sampaio wants solar panels to become mandatory for every new building constructed in the Algarve. Sampaio was speaking at a congress on the impact of climatic changes at the Algarve University in Faro recently.

The President called upon the câmara presidents in the region to bring about changes to the construction legislation in their boroughs.“Solar panels are already obligatory for new buildings in Santarém – and they have less sun than you!” he said. “It makes perfect sense, as this is a region with a lot of sun and families could reduce their energy bills by around 50 per cent.”

Sampaio also took the opportunity to criticise the laziness of the general public with regard to honouring their environmental responsibilities. The Minister for the Environment, Luís Nobre Guedes, called upon companies and institutions, saying that “Everyone has to take their responsibilities seriously.” He told the delegates that he hoped Portugal was entering a new phase, “where greater care would be taken with regards to the use of water and energy and the protection of natural resources.”

Tougher laws to protect the environment

It may not be possible to “change the Portuguese,” said the President, but by “increasing fines and putting stricter laws in place we will reduce careless behaviour that damages the environment. We have to say that crime doesn’t pay,” he emphasised. “We need to think carefully about what needs to be done to prevent further damage to the environment – what we do now will be important for the next generation.”

Full house

The auditorium was full and the audience included several câmara presidents, such as José Vitorino from Faro and Seruca Emídio from Loulé. The president of environmental association, Quercus, was also present, as well as representatives from major companies and educational establishments throughout the country. A large number of students also attended and the media was out in full force, with RTP, SiC and TVI all present to cover the event.

Following the congress, the President visited the Ria Formosa, where he was given a bleak picture about the state of the environment from the Director of the Ria Formosa National Park, Paulo Silva. Silva outlined the problems, citing “seven kilos of rubbish every 10 metres”, mostly paper, cans and bottles, something which he said revealed “an unacceptable absence of civic pride. Whether it be in lagoons, beaches, urban or rural areas, there is behaviour that is not being properly controlled.”

The President was also taken to the Serra do Calderão, the forest which was badly burned in the fires this summer, as well as the Castro Marim nature reserve and the agricultural branch of the Portuguese Institute of Maritime Investigation.