Citizens accuse government of preventing avocado impact assessment

Citizens group denounces aquifer contamination by glyphosate in Barão de São João

The negative impacts of avocado farms in the Algarve are not being evaluated and the Ministry of Agriculture is to blame, accused the “Terra Healthy” group.

The citizens' movement, which was born in Lagos to fight against the proliferation of monocultures harmful to the soil and the environment and with a high consumption of water, says that it is an orientation of the tutelage that is preventing avocado farms from being subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), against the wishes of other official entities.

For, while CCDR do Algarve and the Portuguese Environment Agency argue that there should be an EIA prior to planting, the Ministry of Agriculture says that «(…) due to the location, nature and, above all, the small size of the project in cause (...) the assumptions that could substantiate the submission of the project to an EIA procedure are not met».

«And on account of this minority position of the Ministry of Agriculture, the aquifers disappear and/or are poisoned», says the “Healthy Land”.

The group provides a concrete example of an exploration that, allegedly, is jeopardizing the availability of water and contaminating aquifers with glyphosate, in Barão de São João, since 2018.

This plantation, they ensure, "impacts negative impacts on water resources, as well as other environmental factors."

«The preparation of the land so that this plantation could take place, with the necessary debris (removal of rocks) and soil mobilization, has the consequence of reducing the soil infiltration capacity, which will reduce underground water availability and will affect the water quality in the aquifers”, said the “Earth Healthy”.

“Add to this the use of pesticides such as glyphosate, something that has already started to contaminate groundwater. In fact, this group has evidence that contamination is already taking place, since through water analysis, carried out in 2018, glyphosate levels were shown to be 25 times higher than those allowed by community legislation», he added.

This movement of citizens of Lagos has been fighting for the disappearance of avocado plantations and “other types of monoculture that contribute to the destruction of soils, to aggravate the water problem that the Algarve is experiencing, aggravating the problem of drought , and by the poisoning of soils and aquifers by the use of chemicals such as glyphosate'.

"This group will fight for the defense of the Earth and for the defense of legality, either with the public administration or with the Courts, if necessary", they conclude.