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Left Bloc formally demands an end to Ria Formosa demolitions

vasconcelosLeft Bloc MP João Vasconcelos (pictured) went on a six hour walk-about on Culatra last weekend and his subsequent report has led to his party presenting a formal resolution to parliament that would halt all demolitions planned for the island settlements.

According to the Left Bloc, the demolition programme initiated last year by the Polis Literal Ria Formosa company "is maladjusted to reality, leaving those caught in its destructive path as homeless or having to live in deplorable conditions."

The initiative, presented to parliament on Tuesday, is a direct result of Vasconcelos taking the time and trouble to visit Culatra to analyse the 81 properties in Farol and Hangares due to be demolished at the end of October - and to talk to locals.

The new petition demands that a detailed plan is drawn up for the Ria Formosa area to look at the risks associated with coastal erosion and climate change, to upgrade the bathing areas and to prohibit any further construction.

The initiative also requires the proper registration of all current properties as well as authorising improvements to the Ria Formosa area through an integrated plan that addresses pollution, dredging and erosion.

For the Left Bloc, the solution "is not the demolition of housing," which, despite being voted on twice in the previous government administration, has ended up as the desired political choice, despite this choice not taking into account those whom it affects.

In Sagres on Tuesday, the Environment Minister said the demolition process in the Ria Formosa "is being examined and will be adjusted" in order to safeguard primary houses.

João Matos Fernandes spoke to dozens of residents of the islands who surprised him by driving en masse to the Sagres Bird Festival - with a police escort. His assurances should be read with suspicion.

In a separate initiative, the minister soon will face questions in a parliamentary committee.

A vote took place in the Commission for the Environment and Planning, after the Algarve communist MP Paulo Sá requested that Joao Matos Fernandes "should be heard as soon as possible, this week or next, given the urgency of the subject."

"The minister said to the committee last week that the demolition cases are still to be assessed 'case by case' and would have more information to give us within 15 days. Interestingly, on the same day, the Polis company issued demolition notices for houses in the barrier islands," said Sá.

The islands under threat are the responsibility of Faro Council which voted this week to suspend demolitions. There currently exists a legal impasse regarding the islands as Loulé court accepted dozens of individual injunctions to suspend specific demolitions and the Polis contractors have been stood down for the time being.

This mountain of legal claims has overloaded the court with the result that little other business is able to be conducted there, causing yet further delays to commercial cases, some of which already have been waiting several years to be heard.

The original plan for the Ria Formosa islands, released by the Ministry of the Environment to be carried out by Polis, provided for the demolition of a 800 buildings and was meant to be over by the summer of 2015.

As for the Minister of the Environment, he stands on shifting political sands with Vasconcelos stating the Left Bloc would "have trouble continuing to support the ruling Socialist Pary if the demolitions went ahead."

The Left Bloc vote is key to the government's ability to push through its legislative programme and to lose its support over something so easy to fix would be political folly.

The Prime Minister expects Fernandes to sort out these sorts of annoyances but has agreed that a 'case by case' process would be best yet neither politician has done anything to halt Polis Ria Formosa in its destructive path.

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+4 #1 PedroP 2016-10-06 08:39
Well done Vasconcelos. After years of threat and pressure, I am surprised the islalanders are not ill with worry. The actions of Polis have been nothing less than bullying, imperious and shameful - hiding behind legislation to inflict deliberate pain and anguish - led by Sebastiao Teixeira who, as Ed often now points out, is the Algarve's number one enemy as he works against our environment in a bizarre, goon-like manner - "just following orders" was no excuse in Nuremburg. Let us hope that the politicians vote to halt demolitions and to open dialogue with the islanders who know the area and how nature behaves. The must be a free vote NOT a party political excercise in power - this matter is too important.

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