The court in Faro has decided to revoke an initial decision and proceed with the demolition of 15 illegal houses on the Ria Formosa settlements of Farol and Hangares. The court order is set to be enforced as soon as the summer holiday season is over, bring tension, anger and the prospect of yet more legal fees for property owners.
The Judicial Court of Faro has ordered the "evacuation and demolition" of what it calls "clandestine summer houses" in the Ria Formosa area.
The ruling is to proceed despite Olhão council’s successful earlier filing of a injunction to halt the demolition of the houses as this would mean the destruction of habitat for the common chameleon, which only exists in the Algarve, and which could lead to its extinction.
The owners of the holiday homes have claimed title to their properties, despite these being in the Public Maritime Domain, as they have used them for a certain amount of time, but this has not been enough and the court has reversed its earlier decision: "No right is granted to them," reads the judgment which denies owners the right to occupy the maritime area.
The chameleon is protected by European Community legislation and Olhão council managed to have the diggers stopped. However, the various lawsuits filed against the houses on the Ria Formosa islands will have to go back through court now that it has decided to revoke its initial decision.
The continual court battle involving multiple properties has clogged up the Loulé court to the point that it has been unable to process other cases, leading to delays measured in years.
The clearances are back on with the government determined to rid these idyllic islands of properties that it deems should not be there. The waste of resources involved in continuous legal battles is disproportionate to the end result, replacing useable homes with empty spaces, using a continually shifting list of reasons.
With pressure to increase the Algarve's tourism facilities, the islanders remain convinced that there is a master-plan to remove their properties in order to improve the appeal of the area before big tourism businesses move in.