APA gives a favorable opinion, but conditioned to the enlargement of the Port of Portimão channel

Imposed conditions are a victory for archeology – and not only

Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

On the second, it was for good. The Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) gave a favorable Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), but conditional, on the project “Deepening and Widening the Navigation Channel of the Port of Portimão”, to allow the entry of large cruise ships, from according to a document issued this Friday, July 1st.

O Sul Informação consulted the Single Environmental Title (TUA), where the APA explains why, after redesign requests in 2020 and a new public discussion in 2021, having now issued a statement in favor of this work.

According to this entity, the «set of conditions», established by the Administration of the Ports of Sines and Algarve (proponent of the work), will «contribute to the minimization of the main negative impacts identified».

According to the document, some of the changes to the dredging, compared to the initial project, are the fact that the rotation basin of 50 meters in diameter in front of the Commerce and Tourism Pier is moved around 500 meters, «for to minimize the interference of the channel with the works foreseen in the general arrangement of the Ferragudo Marina, should this project be implemented».

Added to this is a «rotation basin of 350 meters in diameter in the foreport, intended exclusively for the deceleration of the ship and the correction of the course after its entry. This solution aims to minimize the impacts on cultural heritage, compared to the initial project that provided for a 500-meter basin to be implemented in a second phase and which is now eliminated».

The width of the channels was also reduced, compared to the initial project, «with a view to minimizing the volume of dredging to be carried out on the rocky substrate and to move the dredging area away to about 60 meters from the walls of the Castle» of São João do Arade.

According to the APA, after “weighing the benefits and importance of achieving the project’s objectives in view of its importance in the regional and national context, it is considered to accept the non-mitigable impacts that will remain, despite the adoption of minimization measures”.

Even so, the Portuguese Environment Agency imposes some conditions.

If the decision of the action brought before the Administrative and Tax Court (TAF) of Loulé, which is still pending, concludes that the Environmental Impact Declaration of the “Marina de Ferragudo” project cannot expire, the project for the “Deepening and Widening of the Navigation Channel” of the Port of Portimão” must “be adjusted, in order to ensure compatibility with the project of the “Marina de Ferragudo”, which precedes it”.

The Administration of the Ports of Sines and Algarve, which will carry out the work, must also «adopt solutions that do not configure rockfill solutions for the beach of Angrinha and that reduce, in a very significant way, the loss of the high area of ​​sand».

In addition, the solution to be adopted «must be adequate/compatible, in architectural, visual and aesthetic terms, with the scenic value of the place, which is determined by the cultural, heritage and landscape values ​​involved».

Furthermore, the contract cannot jeopardize the “preservation and conservation” of the Castle of São João do Arade, a Property of Public Interest.

Given that the Arade Basin is rich in underwater heritage, it is also necessary to guarantee «the preservation and conservation of the Heritage and the existing cultural landscape, taking into account the results of the archaeological works still to be carried out and taking into account a conciliatory vision between the archaeological remains and the planned project'.

“Cultural heritage must be, as far as possible and in accordance with its heritage value, conserved , so that its conservation status does not deteriorate. The irreversible affectation of archaeological remains implies comprehensive excavation work at the sites, as well as preventive and curative conservation work”, explains the APA.

This condition is, moreover, a victory for underwater archeology.

«When dredging the protection areas of archaeological sites and Areas of High Archaeological Sensitivity, mechanical dredgers must be used that guarantee a direct observation of the aggregates that are dredged», the APA adds.

In other words: this type of dredger, which will always have an archeologist on board to monitor what comes out of the dredge mouth, destroys less and allows stopping if anything is detected.

From the outset, the question of where the dredged materials would be deposited was one of the most sensitive. The Parish Council of Ferragudo rejected the deposition of sand on its beaches.

According to the APA, «the outermost zone of the bar (larger sediment granulometry) should be used to feed Praia Nova (Porches) and, as the dredging progresses upstream, the Cova Redonda beaches should be successively fed ( Porches), Três Castelos, Amado and Careanos», all in Portimão.

«This last beach should already be fed with sediments from the area further upstream (finer)», reads in the Unique Environmental Title.

«It should also be considered that sediments from old dredging where possible archaeological assets are found (protection areas of archaeological sites and areas of high archaeological sensitivity) should also be used in beach depositions in emerged areas if there is granulometric compatibility of these sediments» , says the APA.

In this second public consultation period, which ended on 28 October 2021, 85 exhibitions were received from the Directorate-General for Territory (DGT), Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (ANACOM), Turismo de Portugal, Lagoa and Portimão Chambers, Junta de Parish of Ferragudo, University of Algarve – CCMAR, Grémio – Cultural Association (constituted by IRIS – Cultural Association, Download Platform Cultural Association), Download Platform, Tertúlia do Caranguejo Cultural and Recreation Association, MARGUDO – Tourist, Maritime and Real Estate Empreendimentos, SA, Barlavento Marinas – Empreendimentos Turísticos, SA and 73 citizens.

Of the 85 exhibitions, two are not opposed to the execution of the project (Turismo de Portugal; Directorate-General for the Territory); two present a favorable opinion (Authoridade Nacional de Comunicações and one citizen), 80 are unfavorable to the implementation of the project, showing concern given the negative impacts identified, also mentioning that, in the documentation submitted for evaluation, referring to the reformulation of the project, some doubts remain.

Among these entities are, for example, the Câmara de Lagoa, the Parish Council of Ferragudo, the University of the Algarve – CCMAR, MARGUDO – Empreendimentos Turísticos, Marítimos e Imobiliários, SA and Marinas de Barlavento.

The Chamber of Portimão «expresses its concern and describes some omissions in the Environmental Impact Study, without commenting on whether its opinion is favorable or unfavorable to the execution of the project».