Sweet intentions for Lagoa dos Salgados

Just for the narrow and sensitive coastal strip of the Algarve, with a width of 500 meters, there are plans for a further 20.000 new tourist beds, to be built in areas of high ecological and scenic value.

Flamingos at Lagoa dos Salgados – Photo: CM Silves

The Government's intention to create the Lagoa dos Salgados Natural Reserve and to attribute to that singular parcel of territory between the lagoon and the Pera-Alcantarilha marsh, Silves, a legal status in keeping with its environmental exceptionality is an idea that cannot be ignored. to deserve a round of applause.

If implemented, the classification will imply the elaboration of a territorial management instrument with objectives opposed to the predominant urban discipline for the place, established since 2008 by the Praia Grande Detailed Plan, justifying its immediate suspension until the approval of a new special program.

However, the suspension of the Praia Grande PP, despite being assumed in the classification proposal, is not an obligation of the classification act. However, the incompatibility between what is established in the plan and the objectives underlying the creation of the nature reserve is so evident that there will be no way to escape the effective determination of suspension of this detailed plan. Even so, as even washing the baskets is vintage...

It's not that the suspension could no longer and should have taken place. In 2015, following the alteration of the environmental impact statement (DIA) promoted by the CCDR of Algarve, the suspension of the Praia Grande PP had already been raised by the Coordination Committee. Safeguarding the soils concerned from the potential threat of destruction to the largest habitat in algarvian linaria known until today in the region justified it. It is certain that, almost seven years later, no decision has been taken in this regard. And, although it is not yet the time to claim victory, the time to do so now seems closer.

Despite all the legitimate and persistent doubts of some about this process, from the outset about the alleged illegality of the detailed plan, at the time inspected and filed by the inspection authority for lack of foundation, only an unfavorable decision by the CCDR on the request for recognition Environmental impact of the execution project (RECAPE) taken against winds and tides - and already this year validated in court in the first instance - obviated the worst consequences, that is, the consolidation of construction rights provided for in the detailed plan but (yet) not validly acquired for this eco resort of 4.000 beds.

It could be that the classification of Lagoa dos Salgados as a nature reserve and the inevitable suspension of the detailed plan, due to national interest, is the sign of a change that has been delayed in terms of the way in which Lisbon, from now on, will want to exercise its responsibilities for the defense and enhancement of Portuguese territory in general and the Algarve coast in particular.

Not an impulse for the creation of new and successive reserves with significant potential to add abandonment to abandonment, but, only and for now, for the suspension, for unequivocal and urgent national interest, of a set of other old plans in force that, to come out paper, will definitively jeopardize the future of the territories where they exist.

It's never too much to remember: just for the narrow and sensitive coastal strip of the Algarve, with a width of 500 meters, there are plans for a further 20.000 new tourist beds and 7.000 new dwellings to be built outside urban agglomerations, in areas of high ecological and scenic value and of proven presence of rare endemic flora.

Plans including some that, after nearly twelve years (!) of elaborating the new coastal program for the Algarve, the State continues to tolerate, despite warnings that these mere potential rights will soon become real.

Praia Grande Eco Resort promotional video:



Author Nuno Marques is an urban planner, having been vice president of CCDR/Algarve from 2012 to 2020