The need to "defend the public interest” and to highlight the “shortcomings detected in the impact assessment process” were the two key reasons used by the Friends of Salgados environmental organisations to lodge last week’s injunction against the Praia Grande development near Armaçao de Pêra, Silves proposed by developer Finalgarve.
The injunction was lodged at the Fiscal Court in Loulé to halt the development plan for Salgados/Praia Grande by Finalgarve, and to seek the annulment of the flawed Environmental Impact Statement.
According to the eco wing of the Friends of Salgados "the decisions taken by the central and local administration over the Detailed Plan for Praia Grande did not consider all the facts and were not substantiated by solid information,' thus prompting the filing of two lawsuits in Loulé.
In a statement released today, the Friends of Salgados organisational members state that they believe that the issuance of a ‘favorable’ Environmental Impact Statement by the Secretary of State for the Environment over stage 1 of the developer’s plan was "a setback for Lagoa dos Salgados and the entire natural area that exists between Armaçao de Pêra and Albufeira."
"With this decision, private interests were placed above the public interest allowing the advancement of a megalomaniac project, even though this meant serious and irreversible environmental damage," added the statement.
Developer Finalgarve has alleged that there will be ‘benefits to the economy and to regional development by creating jobs,’ but there is no rationale to demonstrate the economic viability or sustainability of these jobs or the need for a further golf course and three hotel development.
In fact the developer Finalgarve, by its own admission, does not have the money to build the development and aims to sell it on once full permissions are granted and the annoyance of court injunctions are swept aside. The company’s arrogance throughout the process, notably the fiasco of a meeting in Silves library where its officers made a brief presentation and then refused to answer a single question, has given rise to the suspicion that this project has been politically aided from Lisbon and the current injunction will be a setback for both the developer and those higher up the corporate chain.
The Friends of Salgados injunction points out that "the Regional Spatial Plan for the Algarve (PROTAL) recognises the environmental value of Praia Grande as an ecological corridor and the importance of its protection' however 'this important function will be destroyed by the mega-tourist project such as is currently planned."
Last week Silves council decided to contest the lawsuits that the six environmental associations lodged. This decision is despite the 22,000 signature petition which was delivered by the platform of Friends of Salgados on January 8, 2013 to the then Ministry of Agriculture. The petition now numbers 32,500 signatures.
The Secretary of State for the Environment decided to refer the tourism project for an environmental impact assessment which the Minister then passed, albeit with conditions.
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