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.