Tensions rise with pylon protestors

By DAISY SAMPSON daisy.sampson@algarveresident.com

Local residents in the eastern Algarve, who united against a project to erect a series of high tension power lines through their villages, are now facing the prospect of wind turbines being placed within metres of their homes.

The villages of Malhada do Judeu, Água de Tábuas, Porto Carvalhosos and Aporfiosa, near Tavira, are all to be affected by the proposed route of high tension pylons and plans for the route are now in the final stages.

Despite meetings with REN, the national electricity network, members of Tavira Câmara, national MP´s and even an MEP, it appears that the works will continue regardless.

However, the residents continue to battle against the route and are now also fighting to stop the construction of the wind turbines.

Residents found out about the proposed pylon project by chance according to Brian Carrigan of Santa Catarina, who told the Algarve Resident: “I only heard about the plans through a neighbour of mine, who saw a notice in the Junta.  By the time we realised what would be happening, it was almost too late to take action against the plans.”

A protest against the proposed route of high tension pylons began with a petition of more than 850 signatures, which was submitted to Tavira Câmara, the Ministry for the Environment, Junta and the secretary of state for the environment.

A committee has now been formed by members of the local community including British, Portuguese, Dutch and American members who have now also taken on the battle against the wind turbines.

Toby Jarvis, a community member involved in the protests, told the Algarve Resident: “The lack of communication and respect shown to us as individuals and as a community has been unbelievable. At no stage in the so called consultation process have we felt informed or included.  This has been extremely frustrating and stressful to all involved.”

The latest meeting between Tavira Câmara and the residents committee was held at the end of March, when Fernando Viegas of the department for infrastructure told the residents that “cables would not pass over any properties,” and added that a reasonable distance between properties and pylons should be a minimum of between 400 and 500 metres.

A spokesman from the department of the environment said: “The environmental impact study which was performed in the area states that the route for the pylons has been chosen because this is the least populated area, making it the preferable option.”

Meanwhile, Cavalum SA, the company responsible for erecting the new wind turbines, confirmed that they would be erecting three wind turbines in the area after wind measurements had been completed.

“If these wind turbines are also to go ahead, they, combined with the high tension power lines that will be surrounding my property will make it virtually unsalable,” said Toby Jarvis.

 “We are now calling into question the current legislation relating to planning, consultation and implementation of power lines and wind turbines and are currently in talks with Portuguese MPs who are also keen to alter the laws as they stand to prevent further citizens from having to face the same problems we have encountered.”

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