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Victory! Ria Formosa demolitions postponed indefinitely

Farol3The inhabitants of Farol on Culatra island in the Ria Formosa have reacted with understandable joy and relief as the anxiously awaited ruling from Loulé court is in, and it calls an indefinite halt to the programme of property destruction by Polis Litoral Ria Formosa.

Loulé’s administrative court has stopped the demolition programme of houses making up the community of Farol due to a rare and rather lovely chameleon which needs its habitat protecting, its habitat being the gardens and greenery in and near the islanders’ homes.

Olhão mayor António Pina is forgiven for previous dithering as he fronted the appeal based on the chameleon.

The injunction presented by Olhão council finally received the legal thumbs up from the Administrative and Fiscal Court of Loulé today and mayor Pina believes that the petition presented for the community of Hangars will have the same outcome, as “the arguments are the same."

The other island communities presented their legal objections to demolitions later than Farol so should hear similar good news over the next three weeks.

"The judge did not accept the arguments presented by Polis as valid - that demolitions were in the public interest" António Pina commented to Sul Informaçao this evening.

Polis Litoral now is in legal disarray. Its despised director, Sebastião Teixeira, has failed in his task of clearing the islands by using a series of transparent ruses including health and safety, illegal construction and Public Maritme laws to back up his obsessive desire to knock down as many properties as he could in the time allotted.

Polis had argued that the demolition of up to 800 island homes was ‘in the public interest’ and the company had the full support of the Environment Minister who said last week that 'the programme must go on."

This was a programme that the judge in Loulé deemed as invalid, basing the final decision on the chameleon which acted as a vital obstruction to Polis’ ground zero plans.

Polis has had over ten years to carry out its work to develop, secure, dredge and rid the Ria Formosa of pollution, none of which it has achieved despite multi-million EU funding and in house expertise. Not having produced annual accounts for several years, there remain questions as to what its management has been doing with the well funded company's reserves.

Polis' management had to ask for a year’s extension to its fixed term life, which it was granted in 2014. The management has this extra time to mount a military style assault by machinery, flattening properties and leaving some poorer settlers with no option but to start seeping rough in Olhão’s docks.


The Ria Formosa islands inhabitants, many of whom are descendants of the original settlers of some 200 years ago, have mounted an extraordinary campaign to save their homes.

Coachloads of protestors made two visits to parliament when the subject of demolitions was debated, and spokesmen have appearance on national radio and TV.

The 'Je Suis Ilhéu' campaign for the hearts and minds of mainland locals hit a high point on April 25th when a human chain of over 1,000 people gathered at Farol.

The use of social media and the support of local news services all have contributed to a groundswell of opinion that the islanders have every right as Portuguese citizens to continue to live and work on their islands – and that the chameleon should be protected.

The Prime Minister recently was sidelined at a meeting in Faro where island representatives spent half an hour telling him what had been going on in the name of the state.

Pedro Passos Coelho expressed concern that he was not aware of the conflict as he had left it all up to his Minister of the Environment who he described as sympathetic.

Last weekend a distinctly unsympathetic Minister for the Environment, Jorge Moreira da Silva, addressed an audience in Faro and shocked everyone with the news that the 800 properties slated for destruction was just the start as he plans to continue the process and to include many more.

Moreia da Silva’s twisted reasoning was that by leaving some houses standing, this would be unfair to those who already had lost their homes. Algarve mayors and regional politicians were left speechless.

Polis Litoral Ria Formosa is to be dissolved at the end of 2015 at the same time that its access to EU funding for its particular brand of ‘social vandalism’ will run out.

The islanders’ campaign will continue until their homes are legalised, as they already have been on the island of Armona some years ago, and the inhabitants can rest easy in their properties without living under the threat of a state instrument that many believe wants the islanders and their homes out of the way so that big business can move in and build high quality tourist resorts.  

Already there have been calls by Polis shareholders for the resignation of the chief, Sebastião Teixeira whose position now is untenable and he must resign, with an apology if he can manage one.

Now that the island demolitions are postponed indefinitely, the celebrations are expected to continue all weekend.


For previous articles published on this subject, see:



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-8 #6 cb 2015-05-24 06:36
what a farce, we don't mind chucking people out of their homes, but we musn't upset the chameleons
anyway, three cheers for a good conclusion
-2 #5 Simon 2015-05-23 09:51
Hope that Polis will now have to explain what it has been doing all these years and where the money has gone. What a farce!!
-5 #4 Jack T 2015-05-23 09:30
Hurrah and yes, well done Ed for your support of these people.

ADN and the Ressie have kept us expats informed all along (I think the Portugal Nudes covered it only once) and let's hope this is the end to this insanity that saw people being made homeless due to pompus and rather nasty public jobsworths.
-3 #3 Peter Hallet 2015-05-23 09:23
All thanks to one judge in Loule ruling on a chameleon.

This Pythonesque scenario has had the right result even though it is not based on the islanders' right to live where they always have lived.

If it were not for a reptile the bulldozers would back back in on Monday.

I think that danger still lurks as the shamed Polis management will be out for revenge before it is wound up.

Where are the Polis Ria Formosa Society annual reports and accounts for the last few years? This is indicative of someone hiding something.

Anyway, as Ed recommends, Teixeira should resign as after ten years he has failed in all his key tasks.

By the way, well done Ed for helping to keep this campaign in the public eye, you deserve some credit.
-5 #2 liveaboard 2015-05-23 07:33
excellent news, a triumph for residential and property rights in Portugal.
-3 #1 Peter Booker 2015-05-23 07:10
The right answer for the wrong reason. What has happened to the chameleons of the houses already destroyed? Will Polis have to reinstate both the houses and the chameleons?

Has Polis been operating now for eleven years and knew nothing of the chameleons? Is it now the case that Polis should be prosecuted for destroying chameleon habitat?

Peter Rabbit´s comments were his typical buck-passing; we never get a straight answer from him. I hope that Mr MacGregor catches him later in the year. And I bet that Sebastião Teixeira is slated for a top job in government as a reward for carrying out an unpleasant government policy.

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