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Algarve anti-oil drilling petition to be hand-delivered to Parliament

oilrigtransportThe Algarve anti-oil 'public petition,' signed by over 4,400 people, is to be hand-delivered to parliament on Wednesday June 22nd.

This initiative, one of many organised and promoted by Algarve based pressure group ASMAA, saw the collection of the minimum 4,000 signatures within ten days. This means that parliament has no option but to debate the petition's demand that the planned July 1st drilling off the Alentejo coast is cancelled.

In Lisbon, time will not be wasted as two demonstrations are planned. The first will be right in front of the Assembly building at 12:00 where Algarve residents and those representing various civic and eco-groups will gather and the public petition will be delivered.

The second will be at 14:30 at the offices of the Directorate General for Natural Resources, Security and Maritime Services (DGRM) in Avenida Brazilia at which two petitions will be presented.

The first is the public petition with, by that time, between 4,500 and 5,000 signatures and the second is a massive collection of 20,000 signatures that "Say NO to OIL and GAS in Algarve" signed by locals, tourists, foreign visitors and foreign residents in the Algarve.

These ASMAA actions received the support of many MPs and the Algarve’s councils, especially the mayor of Aljezur, José Amaralinho whose council area is adjacent to the Galp/ENI drilling zone in the offshore Santola block.

The petition aims to halt the Galp/Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi SpA consortium which has applied for the essential Use of Private Space License (TUPEM).  

With this petition, ASMAA and the other active ecological and nature associations, are demonstrating their objections to establishing an oil business in the Alzejur area and in the wider Algarve region, either onshore or offshore.

Fifty ASMAA supporters will be travelling in a battle bus to Lisbon to support their tireless leader, Laurinda Seabra as she presents the petition next Wednesday. They later will be much in evidence at a demonstration back in Lagos on the 25th.

Algarve anti-oil organisation, MALP, believes that the government is not giving due attention to the whole issue of oil and gas exploration.

The government has failed to answer many perfectly sensible and direct questions put to it by MALP about the gas and oil exploration contracts in the Algarve.

MALP says the Algarve region may be on the verge of ‘ecocide’ - a term it uses to define the large-scale destruction of the environment.

As for support in parliament, Prime Minister António Costa, who ‘just wants to see what oil and gas resources are out there’ not only is losing the support of his own MPs one by one, but has the Left Bloc and Greens to contend with in a debate that will serve to highlight the murkier aspects of the oil contracts.

Costa could continue to ignore the mood of the electorate, certainly those voters in the Algarve region who have swung from an 'easy to handle indifference, to a position of decided opposition.

For this turnaround in opinion, the Algarve region has the hard work and single-minded dedication of the activists to thank.

Far from fitting the traditional image of ‘alternative lifestyle’ mung-munching hippies, the current protestors come from all walks of life with one common purpose, to preserve and protect the environment, to see investment in alternative energy and to continue to develop tourism as the region's industry.

The petition, translated below, is the first salvo in political and legal barrage that is about to assail the government with the region's mayors group close to serving their own injunctions to preserve their territories and sea areas.

 

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"Dear Sirs

Thank you for this opportunity to submit an objection to the application made by ENI Portugal acting on behalf of the ENI-Galp consortium to DGRM Direção-Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Maritimos for the award of a TUPEM licence to drill an exploratory well in the area 233 designated “Santola” located in the Alentejo offshore basin.

Our association, ASMAA Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association with NIPC 510 381 952 and the undersigned individuals strongly object to a TUPEM exploration-drilling permit being granted to ENI based on the following:

- The coastline of Costa Viventina and its offshore marine environment is of a high environmental, social and economic value to the Algarve and all its residents and visitors.

- This specific stretch of coast where the proposed drilling operation is to take place is located in an area that provides important habitat for marine life, migrating whales and other cetaceans.

- This area of coastline is also a popular tourist draw-card for the Algarve, with the numerous beaches providing a resource for swimming, surfing, boating and other water based activities that attracts both residents and tourists.

- It is clear to us that the Algarve community of over 400,000 people have not been adequately considered, as there is a clear lack of consultation by the relevant government authorities.

- The lack of an environmental impact study before any offshore drilling operation is deeply concerning to our association and all the undersigned.

We are seriously concerned by the adverse impacts that offshore drilling can have on the environment; that it will not only lead to environmental degradation but also to negative social and economic impacts, as the natural beauty of our coastline is integrally linked with tourism, and is one of the major factors for residents moving to or already living in this area of the Algarve.

The close proximity of the potential area of operation to the coastline is of great concern to all of us, as well as the fact that the visual amenity of the coast may be compromised due to the presence of semi-permanent vessels and associated infrastructure. Furthermore, we are believe that the local community will not receive any direct benefit from the proposed exploration should this application proceed.

Our main areas of concern include, but are not limited to:

1 - Lack of information on response to emergency situations, such as a subsea rupture
2 - Air, noise, water and beach pollution
3 - Impacts on rare or protected species
4 - Acoustic affects of seismic testing
5 - Disruption of whale migration due to seismic testing and the presence of semi-permanent vessels and associated infrastructure
6 - Visual impacts of surface infrastructure and activities
7 - Exclusion of recreational and local fishing vessels from exploration zones
8 - Physical damage to the sea floor and important habitats
9 - Release of hydrocarbons from either the sea bed or pipes into the marine and shoreline environment
10 - Changes in pelagic fish ecology and congregation due to the presence of semi permanent vessels and associated infrastructure
11 - Facilitation of noxious or invasive species invasion due to the presence of semi permanent vessels and associated infrastructure
12 - Impact on climate change

ASMAA and the undersigned individual’s request that you fully access and consider the environment, social and economic impacts of both the exploration activity and the potential mining activity associated with this application by ENI.

In addition take note, that we strongly feel that the application should be rejected outright and would like that any further exploration for fossil fuels in the entire area of Portuguese offshore should be prohibited.

To further support our resolve to object, take note that we have embarked on a campaign to inform the public on the process and possible negative impacts of such offshore exploration drilling proposal."

_____________________

Readers with Fiscal Numbers are still invited to click on this next link, fill in the petition and hit ‘send’

http://peticaopublica.com/pview.aspx?pi=PT81291

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For those without a Fiscal Number, to read and share the petition on social media:

https://www.change.org/p/dgrm-director-general-objection-to-offshore-drilling-licence-in-aljezur-offshore-being-granted-to-eni

 

 

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