Such is the balance of power at Silves council the mayor, despite having registered her disapproval at the plans to turn the Salgados and Praia Grande areas into a large tourism development, has had to report that the council as a body elect decided last Wednesday to oppose the injunction logged in Loulé court by environmental groups to have the Salgados/Praia Grande project declared illegal.
In a resolution passed at a Silves council board meeting last week, votes from the opposition PS and PSD parties overwhelmed environmentally sensitive opposition and won the motion. The question was thoroughly debated in the face of legal moves by environmentalists in the Fiscal Court of Loulé to have the whole project declared null and void, specifically the decision by Silves council in March 2012 which formally approved the €230 milion project put forward by cashless developer Finalgarve, part of the Galilei Group which in turn is an adjunct of the corrupt corporate mess of BPN bank.
The new mayor, Palma Rosa, and other CDU councillors voted against this injunction saying her position was well known as when she was elected Palma she declared she did not agree with the project, although she considered its progress 'very difficult' to halt.
Palma has always defended Praia Grande and Lagoa dos Salgados as unique ecological habitats in the Algarve, which from a tourism point of view should be valued and used for the promotion of eco-tourism, not for more mass tourism by the construction of hotels, golf courses and apartments. This is a view shared by 32,500 voters to date in a record-breaking online poll.*
Palma’s vote is not enough and the council’s official stance therefore is that in the ‘public interest’ the eco-concessions in the developer’s plans are sufficient to overcome any concerns about wildlife and the necessary destruction of a unique natural habitat.
Rosa and her CDU councilors said that it is now up to the court to decide on the environmental organisations’ legal move which aims to have the council’s 2012 planning decision declared void since the court “is a sovereign body with the power to administer justice on behalf of the people” and which will rule "in strict compliance with the law."
Besides the action taken to declare the council’s decision unlawful, the injunction seeks the same treatment for the Environmental Impact Statement which was given a status of ‘favorable, with conditions,' in a shock move by the minister for the environment Paulo Lemos.
To sign the 'Save Salgados' petition, CLICK HERE
The 'Friends of Lagoa dos Salgados' platform includes the following organisations:
A Rocha, Aldeia, Algarve123, www.algarvedailynews.com, Almargem, Birding in Portugal, Birdwatching Algarve, LPN, Portugal Resident, ProActiveTur, Quercus, SPEA