Vila do Bispo property wrangle reaches court


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PROPERTY OWNERS in Vila do Bispo, who saw construction works on their villas being embargoed at the beginning of the year, are proceeding against the natural parks authority, which says they don’t have its formal permission for building in the area, and have already sent an official complaint to the European Commission, the Portuguese President of the Republic and the national Purveyor of Justice.

Actions against the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina (PNSACV) are being prepared by the legal advisors of the property owners, who are being affected by a dispute involving Vila do Bispo Câmara, which is licensing properties in a local urbanisation, and the natural parks authority which controls the area and says the owners needed its permission to build outside the urban limits of Vila do Bispo (read The Resident’s edition of July 13).

Law loophole

The dispute involves the building licensing provided by the Câmara at Urbanização dos Carriços, an area that is said to be in the natural park limits. It seems that there is a loophole in the law which seems to be feeding the dispute.

A spokesperson from the Purveyor of Justice confirmed to The Resident that a “complaint was formally registered in September against the Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e Biodiversidade (ICNB),” the national authority on environmental issues in which the Parque is integrated.

According to that source, “the issue is now being analysed by the legal department and a final report will take several weeks to be released”.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has been made aware of the situation, when a formal complaint was sent directly to its presidency in September. Durão Barroso, the former Portuguese Prime Minister who is presently presiding over the European Commission, has not replied officially to the complaint but The Resident knows that this is not the first complaint involving natural parks in the country.

Maria José Bayford, one of the property owners in Vila do Bispo, told The Resident: “Someone from the EC phoned us unofficially confirming that the complaint was being analysed and that the government had already been warned about environmental disputes affecting citizens.”

Maria José saw construction works on her villa at Urbanização dos Carriços being embargoed at the beginning of the year and appealed to the Environment Ministry, which lifted the embargo based on the argument that the natural park had not sent a warning letter 10 days prior to taking action. However, the works have again been embargoed with the Parque following the correct procedures and sending an official warning to the Bayfords two weeks ago.

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