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Planning fiddle used to force through Sunset Albufeira resort project

alfamarEnvironmental association, Almargem, has hit out at the Sunset Albufeira Sport & Health Resort, an expansion of the Alfamar hotel site into the seafront pine forest to the east of Albufeira.

As reported in algarvedailynews.com last week, the rehabilitation of the old Alfamar hotel, between the beaches of Falésia and Rocha Baixinha in Albufeira, involves an expansion into ecological land to build additional sports facilities, villas and apartment blocks. (here)

This push into ecological seafront land is in conflict with the territorial management instruments in force, namely PROTAL, POOC Burgau-Vilamoura, PDM Albufeira, RAN and REN but the developers have an ally in the CCDR-Algarve which has found a way around this obvious planning ‘no-no.’

The Pinhal do Concelho pine forest, or what is left of it, is considered a priority conservation habitat by European and national legislation but as the expansion of the hotel into a sports resort has the coveted PIN status, (project of national importance,) so the rules can be twisted to allow the 95 hectare development to take place.

Almagen says that apart from the Alfamar tourist area that is already built on, all the other parts of the proposed development clearly are in conflict with existing planning rules.

The developers, Libertas-Investimento Imobiliário and the Sun House group, acknowledge that the territorial management laws "strongly condition, or even restrict, the building of the expanded Sunset Albufeira Sports & Health Resort" but say that it is "evident" that these instruments are outdated vis-a-vis the current reality, "and that they are under review."

In a legal opinion attached to the Environmental Impact Statement, paid for by the developers, one of the ways suggested to get around the planning restrictions is to have the Albufeira municipal development plan (PDM) and the regional strategic plan, (PROTAL,) altered to accommodate the developers' needs.

The CCDR-Algarve (Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional do Algarve), which is overseeing this development, rejected the first proposal in 2016 due to "nonconformity", but only as some information was missing. T

he CCDR-A said at the time that the territorial management laws rendered most of project unachievable but suggetsed that the project would be feasible of these laws were changed.  The developers resubmitted their proposals which immediately were accepted by the CCDR-Algarve which then quietly released the project for public discussion – even though ithe development violates all the land management and development laws that others have to follow.

The explanation for the CCRD-A’s "unjustifiable decision", according to Almargem, is a detail in the legislation, approved in 2013 by the Passos Coelho government (Decree-Law no. 151-B / 2013 of October 31).

This states that 'the lack of conformity of a project with the applicable territorial management instruments does not affect any decision about the Environmental Impact Statement,' which thus may be passed as ‘favorable,’ as the responsible entities and local councils are the ones able to change the local land management laws to make the project "compliant."

In short, the CCDR-A can pass a project, even though it breaks land management, zoning and ecological protection laws, if the laws later can be changed to accommodate the development under discussion.

Almargem, not unsurprisingly, considers that this 2013 amendment to the local planning regulations makes a mockery of the whole process - to the benefit of big developers and to the lasting detriment of the Algarve's natural environment.

Basically, developers can build wherever they want, if the law later can be changed to accommodate their incursion into ecological, agricultural and protected areas.

Almargem suggests, in no uncertain terms, that the Environmental impact Statement for the Sunset Albufeira Resort project “should be subject to an unfavorable decision by the CCDR-Algarve.”




+1 #1 TT 2017-08-14 17:59
Funny how there's no sign of axeman Sebastião Teixeira when there's a chance he could actually be of some use.....