Minister for the Environment witnessed the damage caused by the storm in the Algarve and is already thinking about the bill

The mayors of the Algarve have until next Tuesday to present to the Government the list of damages that […]

The mayors of the Algarve have until next Tuesday to present to the Government a list of the damage that the storms that hit the region have caused in the coastal areas of their municipalities, so that the most urgent works can start quickly. The announcement was made this Wednesday by Environment Minister João Matos Fernandes, who visited some of the regions most affected by the storm, throughout the day.

The member of the Government was in Portimão, where he visited Praia dos 3 Irmãos, the target of an emergency intervention on Friday, he sailed – without escaping a brave wet – to Ilha da Fuzeta, where the dune cordon was heavily excavated by the sea, and was at Praia de Faro, where the sea once again climbed the main dune and caused a lot of damage.

João Matos Fernandes arrived in the region with the idea that the cost of the most urgent interventions, to restore normality in the affected areas, «would be around 250 thousand euros», but the feedback that he received from the mayors, with whom he met at the end of the day, did not always come up with what he expected. It's just that Faro, the Chamber estimates that the necessary interventions in the short term will exceed 400 thousand euros.

«The survey that we already have of these situations of greater emergency is around 250 thousand euros. Several mayors said yes, that the damages are already within our survey, others pointed out that some are missing. But these are small things, of more than 5, 10 or 15 thousand euros”, revealed the Minister of Environment, at the end of the meeting he had with the mayors at the headquarters of AMAL – Algarve Intermunicipal Community.

“The mayors were required to send the list of damages until next Tuesday. Afterwards, we will have a week to analyze them. They will certainly be well evaluated, but there are things we want to discuss," he added.

In the specific case of Praia de Faro, the survey carried out by the Ministry of the Environment pointed out that the value of the necessary interventions “would be around 120 to 130 thousand euros. During our visit to the site this afternoon, the mayor told us that he estimated that this first correction, to be made until the summer, would need around 400 thousand euros. We have until next Tuesday for the Chamber of Faro let us know the things that are not yet included in our survey, because he will certainly be right, and we will assess it right away».

To journalists, the mayor of Faro Rogério Bacalhau spoke of "more than 400 thousand euros" and asked the minister to open an exception regime that would allow, "in a quick way, to hire a company to carry out this work"

“There is an intervention that we have to do now. We are preparing specifications and evaluating costs. But, depending on the amount of tenders that we launch, it may be necessary to obtain a visa from the Court of Auditors, which means that it could take a few months to start work», said the mayor.

João Matos Fernandes, faced with this desire of the Farense mayor, flatly refused the possibility of opening a regime of exception. “There won't be works of that value [more than 350 thousand euros]. I don't think such a regime is necessary,” he said.

The Environment Minister took the opportunity to leave a message to the mayors: “please do it. These small works of repairing walkways, of moving sand from left to right, of carrying out small repair works, that they are carried out, that even by direct administration, the Environmental Fund can finance them».

"I believe that some of these interventions can be concluded already for Easter, which will be within 15 days, and, certainly, most of them will be done by the summer," he said.

In addition to what needs to be done now, there is something that "must always be done". “There is another dimension here that is not discussed in this way. And, therefore, we decided to meet after Easter to discuss the issue of restoring the sands on a larger scale and with more extensive interventions. The Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) is monitoring this issue. It is true that storm Felix has already replaced some sand. There is unanimity here regarding the fact that one meter of sand has already been replaced on the beaches and we are counting that this depression that is affecting us should bring another half meter», according to João Matos Fernandes.

Currently, "there is an intervention taking place at Armona, which is putting sand on the beaches" and two other operations of the same nature are in the pipeline. «We are going to start an intervention in April at Barra da Fuzeta, which aims to replace the sand on the beaches, starting at Ilha da Fuzeta, where I was today. And, still in March, the contract for dredging in the Ria de Alvor will be signed».

Future interventions will, as a general rule, go through this type of solution. “From past experience, we know that the spurs that exist do not protect any coast. What we are going to do is put on the beach what it needs, which is sand. All solutions will have to go through natural engineering. Only in very specific situations, and to defend people and goods, will we be able to resort to tougher solutions, which always cause serious problems».

“We have to adapt. And that means, from the outset, doing everything to respect the coastline. A discussion that, fortunately, I no longer have is that my hotel is the last one to be installed by the sea and does not cause any problem. It always causes problems. The last hotel built by the sea has already been built. We really need to relieve the human pressure. There are some places where the situation is more critical, such as the island of Faro, so we are committed, together with the local authority, to find a solution to relocate one hundred families who live in first homes, but who are in a risk zone», said João Matos Fernandes.


Photos: Hugo Rodrigues|Sul Informação