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'Chameleon defence' overturned - more Ria Formosa island properties to be demolished after the summer season

riaformosaThe 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.

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+1 #5 Damien 2017-08-07 11:54
Remind ourselves that there is a mix of islanders. There are those intending to chance it. Never intending to be legal. Some many years ago, so claiming x years of occupation, when Portuguese public administration was 'even less developed'.

The ones you must feel for are those like the 2 Brits. They recently paid handsomely for the best legal and design advice. The Municipal were fully aware at all stages of their build. Yet their lawyers and architects must have been in on the scam in not checking beforehand what, for example, was legally entitled to be there. With the Regional Authority as well as the Municipal. Yet again, in showing that local permissions are only part of the whole licensing activity - a failure in the Duty of Care.
+2 #4 David Jones 2017-08-07 11:42
Annoyingly, the European courts will only get involved when all national courts have issued judgement, so the cases would have to exhaust all appeals in Portugal before going to Europe.

This has always under pinned EU Portugal's approach to 'Citizens Rights'. There is still no concept of 'professionals' protecting a citizens rights as an integral part of their 'Duty of Care'. You are not, as so often pointed out, a friend of theirs or in their family. Then bundle in all the hangups so many Portuguese have, including their judges, and you comprehend why foreigners should ideally stay well clear of Portuguese courts. Portuguese University research tells us that 4 out of 5 Portuguese think likewise !
+5 #3 Ed 2017-08-06 10:41
Quoting Doughboy:
Maybe it's time for the ECJ to sort out this continuing mess

Annoyingly, the European courts will only get involved when all national courts have issued judgement, so the cases would have to exhaust all appeals in Portugal before going to Europe.
+4 #2 Doughboy 2017-08-06 10:14
Maybe it's time for the ECJ to sort out this continuing mess
+1 #1 Elsa 2017-08-06 09:52
As so often we expats point out amongst ourselves - these events just emphasise both Portugal's backwardness, in that 'everyone and his wife' knew these houses were there and / or being built' - but saw nothing - and the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome that the country as a whole still suffers from since Salazar's time.
Repeated infringement of the most basic procedures of public administration are still rife nationwide. In this situation, no Portuguese except those directly involved in island redevelopment is getting seriously involved as the islanders are not in 'my tribe / clan'. The old adage echoing down from earlier centuries - "Keep your head down - or lose it!" Not the slightest awareness that there should by now be wider European Community or National values to observe.
I point out yet again that the only protest of note over the years (including 1974?) was the Police themselves 'storming' the Government building in a wage dispute a couple of years ago! Their heads, as everyone at the time knew, entirely safe for now and forever.

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