The contractor employed by Polis Litoral Ria Formosa, today began demolishing buildings in the historic WWI settlement of Hangares on the island of Culatra.
According to a statement from the Ministry of the Environment, there are 24 buildings that are in the public maritime domain zone and which therefore will be removed with 14 targeted for today and the remaining ones later this week.
The ministry claims that none of these buildings are 'first and only dwellings' or exist to support artisan fishermen that work in the Ria Formosa area.
The demolitions are part of a process that started around two weeks ago at Farol on the same island (see picture above) with the ministry obliged only to demolish those properties that are within the public maritime domain, '40 metres from the sea' zone, and that are not lived in by fishermen or as places to store related equipment.
The Maritime Police again insisted that locals stayed outside a safety limit even if this means leaving their houses until the work is completed. Locals will be allowed back home at 5pm after today’s shift is over.
Around 40 Maritime Police were on duty “to ensure the safety of workers and residents” with Commander Pedro Palma praising the "cordial manner in which the residents have behaved and the excellent collaboration with the Association of Residents of the Hangars to ensure everything goes well over the three days planned for demolitions."
José Lézinho, one of the driving forces behind the well coordinated and persuasive island campaign and also the head of the Hangares Residents Association, felt great sadness and grief at the destruction of around 10% of the properties at Hangares but accepted that they were within the 40 metre public maritime zone and that the court had no reason to exempt them.
"The people are sad, and today is a very sad day for Hangars," commented Lézinho.
"Now we can only wait for the start and a good conclusion to the negotiations for the revision of the Coastal Plan between Vilamoura and Vila Real de Santo António, with the various bodies related to the environment and the respective local authorities, because now we have an excellent dialogue with the new administration of Polis, which was not the case with the previous one," Lézinho commented, referring to the Polis regime under its former president, Sebastião Teixeira, whose hard-line approach to demolitions ultimately led to his dismissal by the environment minister.
You are right. The current minister already has said he will be back in three years to re-measure the ever-shrinking distance between shore and property and to expect further 'assessments'. Islanders say that with the removal of property, the area is open to further erosion. Islanders also claim, correctly, that had the State not authorised the removal of millions of m3 of building sand from their shores, the maritime public domain would be far further away and would not need to be discussed.
You call it a final plan. But of course it is as yet only a current plan. When this reasonable Pacheco has achieved the destruction of those agreed properties within the 40m zone, I suspect he will then begin to act like the unreasonable Teixeira. I cannot for the life of me understand how he can agree that some properties be left which stand in contravention of the law. The remission of their sentence can only be temporary.
Teixeira wanted to demolish the lot but was tangled up by individual court injunctions, the 'Chameleon defence' from Olhao mayor Antonio Pina, protests and media attention that made it politically expedient to have him removed.
This all was within the POOC plan agreed by councils and their removal legal under the Maritime Reserve definitions. These properties had never been recognised as legal so normal oenership rules did not apply. The residents in law were squatters. Teixeira left it until the last months of the original ten year life of Polis to do anything about the demolitions, maybe to get Polis extended so he could trouser the salary.
The new guy is Jose Pacheco. New president appointed to discredited Polis Litoral Ria Formosa
How many fewer than 900 is few?
It seems that the law prohibits buildings within 40 m of the sea (I suppose that is high tide mark), and that this law is now being followed. From your comment, it would seem that lived in and fishing-related buildings even within the 40m mark are to be permitted to remain. Is that correct?
Why was it that this law was not followed by Teixeira and his myrmidons? Were they operating outside the law, and with government and local mayoral permission? And why is there no legal come-back on Teixeira? Who is this reasonable person who has replaced Teixeira?
1. Demolition of a few buildings, not the full Teixeira 900.
2. Exclusion of lived-in and fishing-related buildings.
3. The work on a new POOC plan that includes dialogue with islanders' representatives (totally ignored previously)
4. Investment in new infrastructue at the small harbours and on the island itself.
5. Dealing with someone who is pleasant and not unhinged.