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Breakthrough! Loulé court suspends island property demolitions

riaformosaLoulé's Administrative and Fiscal Court this afternoon suspended the demolition process for 137 houses on the island of Farol in the Algarve’s Ria Formosa whose owners had been told to push off today or face being charged for the destruction of their properties.
Polis Litoral Ria Formosa had scheduled the next raft of demolitions for the 27th of April and the 6th of May but now are unable to proceed due to the court's decision which was taken after a detailed analysis of the petitions submitted by the island property owners.

Speaking to Lusa, the president of the association of  Farol and Santa Maria Islanders, Feliciano Júlio, said that Polis now has 10 days to deliberate on the ruling and counter the claims if it wants to, then the court finally will decide on the fate of the island homes.

"This is the start of a wider legal process that will be resolved in the Portuguese courts," said Feliciano Júlio, explaining that to today’s granting of protective orders for 137 properties can be added 14 houses which Polis says it is reviewing, as they are claimed to be first homes. All may yet evade the bulldozers.

The ‘renaturation’ process of the Ria Formosa area launched by the Ministry of the Environment through the Polis programme provides for demolition of 800 buildings on the barrier islands of the Ria Formosa lagoon.

At first the excuse given was health and safety which later changed to illegal construction in the maritime reserve zone and an assertion that the islanders were somehow damaging the environment when many see them as an essential ecological safeguard and as custodians of the rare habitats in which they live.

Many of the dwellings have been there for 100 years or more and the network of families that earn a living from the Ria Formosa area, and have lived on the islands for generations, felt that the arbitrary eviction orders needed some stiff opposition or their way of life forever would be gone.

The 'Islanders vs the State' has until now been a walkover with the government, through the Polis society, using bullying and intimidation to ensure the islanders stood little chance of success.

The owners of those island property listed for demolition have been protesting with good coverage on national TV and local and national press and appointed a lawyer who submitted their claims to court.

The case against demolitions was heard in parliament, twice, but to no avail as the ruling coalition proved deaf to the islanders’ claims and many MPs whiled away this vital parliamentary time by playing on their computers.

The ruling today is the first step in a legal and democratic process that comes just in time and, as many will point out, it comes on the eve of the anniversary of the Carnation Revolution that was meant to ensure the country was run by sane, elected officials, not arrogant bullies.

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-6 #3 Brian Talbot 2015-04-26 09:37
Had this country anything resembling a functioning local (or national) democracy ... it could never have got this far.

Just consider the years of uncertainty. The presumed hopelessness of making any kind of objection. The assumed certainty that, if making too much noise - you were 'asking for it'. Your house would be amongst those demolished first.

And compensation for stress and 'loss of view' ? Dream on !

There is a similar topic currently at :

A planning application by a VIP that has allowed them to 'apparently annex' common land. Hopeless elderly locals and a .... fired up Brit trying to put things right. Naively thinking Portuguese planning is even remotely the equivalent of the UK's.

But most of us aware that perhaps this Brit, like so many before him, is just aggravating a situation that the Municipal is well aware of but has been 'persuaded' to look the other way.
-6 #2 Karel 2015-04-25 10:58
With the upcoming national elections in view these people should seek help with the non-governemental political parties that can make their election theme and slogan with this very life, actual and super hot topic (as outrageous, illegal, humiliating and corrupt)
-4 #1 liveaboard 2015-04-25 09:22
Thankfully someone in the vast Portuguese government machine was willing to obstruct this outrage. I just hope the case goes for the homeowners.

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