The allotment and urbanization works project for the Cidade Lacustre de Vilamoura, which has been going on since the late 90s, was carried out by the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR Algarve). This body issued, on the 18th of November, an “unfavorable” Environmental Impact Statement (DIA).
The League for the Protection of Nature (LPN), one of the associations that actively participated in the denunciation of the Cidade Lacustre project, reacts to this unfavorable DAY by stressing that it is “a victory for non-governmental organizations for the protection of the environment that they opposed the development, but also for the local community, which would see itself dilapidated of its heritage in favor of an unsustainable appetite for tourism».
THE DAY, what the Sul Informação had access, is signed by José Pacheco, vice president of CCDRA Algarve and concludes that «given that the negative impacts identified are in some very significant, non-minimizable and impeding factors to the development of the project, it issues an unfavorable opinion to the EIA of the “Allotment Project and Urbanization Works for Cidade Lacustre”».
In July, in the grounds of the proposal for a decision issued before the final hearing of the interested parties, CCDR Algarve had concluded that «the project in question will entail negative impacts, direct and indirect, of high magnitude, very significant, identified above all in terms of factors Biodiversity, Territory, Archaeological and Architectural Heritage and Landscape».
The LPN, in its statement, draws attention, however, to the fact that this Environmental Impact Statement refers to “only one of the two components of the Cidade Lacustre project, the subdivision, the decision on the second component, which envisages the construction of a set of lakes and canals, is still open”.
This project involves the construction of a set of interconnected lakes, with a global area of about 22,4 hectares, to be fed by salt water from the Vilamoura Marina. Consultation on this component of the project took place in 2017, but there is still no decision, favorable or unfavorable.
For LPN, this “bipartition of a single project tries to undermine a serious assessment of cumulative impacts on critical aspects such as water resources, natural habitats and species of wild fauna and flora”.
That environmental NGO adds that the information gathered during the public discussion phase of the Cidade Lacustre urban project "allowed the conclusion that, regardless of the measures proposed for the mitigation, prevention and compensation of the impacts that the project would imply on the region's natural values, it does not meet the conditions to be made viable».
Several sectoral opinions and opinions from the constituent bodies of the Evaluation Committee for the Environmental Impact Assessment process contributed to this decision, including the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation and the Loulé City Council.
LPN also underlines having participated "actively in denouncing the Cidade Lacustre project, always showing itself unfavorable", and having "joined its voice to the more than 200 participants in the public consultation process".
Because, explains the oldest Portuguese environmental association, «this unusual mega venture reflects the tourist and urban pressure of the Portuguese coast», being «a result of the combination of strong economic interests in areas of high landscape, environmental and cultural value, with the national legislative permissiveness'.
Despite congratulating itself on the unfavorable DIA, the LPN warns that “the failure to resolve the weaknesses that led to the possibility of proposing this project in that place of great ecological value, namely regarding land use planning policies, keeps the door open for submission of new urban projects».
It is, in fact, a problem «common to other areas of the Portuguese coast and quite evident in the Algarve».
Therefore, he argues, «to definitively eliminate this threat, the classification of this space as a Protected Area of Local Scope should be seriously considered, valuing not only its high ecological and landscape wealth, so important for tourism in the region, as the well-being of populations'.
The Cidade Lacustre project, with a strong real estate component, is promoted by Vilamoura Lusotur SA.
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