World Climate March celebrations drop new bombshells for Algarve

Celebrations for World Climate March took place throughout Portugal and the Algarve today, with two separate initiatives going ahead in Faro and Aljezur. The latter saw three separate bombshells dropped in the space of a warm, sun-dappled afternoon.

Aljezur mayor José Amarelinho was the first to show the way, with a passionate speech of how the next thing on his agenda – in tandem with fighting plans for gas and oil exploration deep offshore the Vicentina coast – is a battle against ‘intensive farming’ that is increasingly encroaching on everyday rural life, with vast areas of plastic-covered greenhouses stretching from Odeceixe to Odemira.

“This a very serious issue, and it is worrying us enormously” he said, adding that the government doesn’t appear to know how to stop it.

“We are all for modern agriculture, but not when it is intensive. How can we promote ‘healthy Nature trails’ and good living at the same time as seeing people from all over the world shipped in to work in greenhouses run as a result of American firms selling franchises of their seeds and plants?”

Amarelinho didn’t elaborate on the way forwards, as now is still the moment for battling the deep-offshore concession 46 kms off Aljezur’s windswept coast, for which he said he is “eternally grateful” for all the support his fight has received from campaigners, and Bloco de Esquerda MP João Vasconcelos – who travelled from Portimão to take part in the event.

Next up it was the turn of the CEO of citizens group ASMAA whom Amarelinho described as the “great, great, great Laurinda Seabra – our queen” – in reference to the former mechanical engineer’s tireless battle against drilling contracts that used to run the length and breadth of the Algarve.

Seabra used the stage to highlight concerns she expressed earlier this month after attending a conference in Lisbon outlining government plans to extend Portugal’s continental platform by 3.9 million square kilometres (click here).

Explaining that recordings taken at the conference still made her too ill to publish (“because of what they mean”), she dropped ASMAA’s bombshell: the group is creating a new petition to lobby the United Nations AGAINST letting Portugal get its way.

“We may not be able to stop the 3.9 million square km ‘land grab’”, she told us afterwards. “But we will insist on a much larger extension of protected territory. We are aiming for 30-40% to be protected”.

Seabra’s fear – backed by scientists (click here) – is that Portugal’s zeal to attract deep-sea mining companies will simply be the nail-in-the-coffin for country’s sustainability.

“It is total destruction”, she told the audience. “When you see what is being planned for our planet, you will see we have to fight as populations against all the smoke screens being put up to lull us into acceptance”.

Bombshell number three came from A Nossa Terra NGO, taking part in the event to promote the battle to keep Monchique ‘mining free’.

The group is ploughing forwards with a challenge of what it calls the “nonsense, bull****” environmental impact study which appears to be waving mining companies through to start digging up south-facing Picota hillside for feldspar.

The group’s president Steven Hugman has also revealed that Monchique councillors are planning similar initiatives.

A meeting of the municipal assembly on Friday has paved the way for the preparation of expert reports on the hydrogeological impact of the two quarries planned – principally on how they will affect water supplies to villages, private mines, springs and boreholes – and lawyers are to be contacted with a view to lodging an embargo (“providência cautelar”) on any activity on the sites.

More information will follow. Monday sees A Nossa Terra holding a campaign walk of the areas under threat. Everyone is welcome. Starting point is Alferce village church at 9am on May 1 (Bank Holiday). Refreshments will be provided along the way. There is a lunch at the end – and this will be yet another moment for like-minded people determined to see the region saved for sustainable projects to make contact, and plan further initiatives.

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Photo: One of the many regional groups taking part was the anti-oil campaigners of Vila do Bispo