Controversial project of Photovoltaic Power Station in Tavira is in Public Consultation

Consultation on the Environmental Impact Study of the Estoi Photovoltaic Power Station, which will be installed in the Cerro do Leiria area, in Tavira, runs until 20 July

Photovoltaic Plant (File)

It will occupy «an area equivalent to 160 football stadiums in the middle of the National Ecological Reserve», in the municipality of Tavira, «rich in biodiversity» and which is a «maximum infiltration zone of the Peral-Moncarapacho aquifer», but, according to the Study of Environmental impact of this Iberdrola Renewables Portugal project, which is in public consultation until July 20, the impacts that the Estoi Photovoltaic Power Plant will have are «little significant».

This conclusion by the authors of the study clashes with the view of residents and hunters in the area of ​​influence of the plant that Iberdrola wants to build, but also of the environmental protection association Pro Barrocal Algarvio (Probaal), who contest this project even before it was officially known.

For the association, which gave its opinion in the context of the ongoing public consultation – whose closing date was 30 June, but which ended up being extended until 20 July -, this study is «prodigal in concealments and strange confessions».

And one of them has to do with water resources, which Probaal considers to be one of the major issues associated with this project,

In the study, they say, it is assumed “that the network of approximately 175 solar panels meanders through several small streams and covers their headwaters”.

The same document also admits «that it is necessary to excavate, remove stones, eradicate weeds... in short, destroy everything that favors rainfall and allows the water that flows into that valley to infiltrate the Peral-Moncarapacho aquifer, which also partially carries the aquifer da Luz de Tavira», accuses Probaal.

«We need energy, but we need water even more. And all the energy in the world will not give us the water we need », he argues.

At the same time, the EIA authors “ignore or downplay the fact that these panels need to be cleaned with water (or toxic chemicals). Have they ever seen the effect of desert dust in the Algarve?”, asks the association.

 

 

Issues related to aquifers were already the main concern of Probaal, hunters and the local population, namely the inhabitants of Cerro do Leiria, in Tavira, in May 2021, even before the project was made official.

At the time, the Sul Informação spoke to several people, including national and foreign citizens, who denounced Iberdrola's intentions and tried to “kill” the project before there was a projecto, something they ended up not getting.

The population, hunters and elements of Probaal drew attention, still in 2021, to another issue that is also a «confession» that is made in the study: that part of the land where the plant will be installed «was purchased in 1999 by a mining company, which has now passed it on to Iberdrola, either by lease or by sale'.

«Did Tecnovia, SA forget to tell Iberdrola that the population came together twice in two decades to fight for the preservation of the Heritage and natural values ​​of that territory?», they ask, in the pronunciation they made, in the public consultation.

«Iberdrola also took the unusual step of buying many hectares of land along the proposed site, making the Estoi Power Station one of the few where the developer is also the owner, as the land is normally rented and not bought», says the association for the defense of the environment.

In other words, in the specific case of the Estoi Photovoltaic Power Plant project, the developers' decision to «go to an area of ​​National Ecological Reserve and National Agricultural Reserve, which is the zone of maximum infiltration of an aquifer» is associated «to pure decisions of management".

In the study, parts of which can be consulted online, it is described that what is at stake is a Photovoltaic Plant «with a power of 69 MVA, with 14 MVA of battery storage, equivalent to a peak power of 94,63 megawatt-peak, estimated an average production of around 144 gigawatt/hours (159 GWh in the first year)'.

The undertaking, which will occupy around 154 hectares, «is a pioneer in the Algarve region, since it has the storage of solar energy produced, in batteries», reads in the non-technical summary of the study.

In the conclusions, emphasis is given to the positive aspects, linked to socio-economics and the promotion of renewable energies, despite pointing out negative consequences in terms of biodiversity and the landscape.

Environmental impacts are expected "due to the destruction of vegetation due to the installation of the photovoltaic plant", which will only be "significant if they affect Habitats of Community Interest)" and because of the "disruption of fauna (only significant if it affects protected fauna)".

As for the positive aspects, they are linked to «job creation», «boosting the local economy» and «diversification of the municipal economic fabric», as well as climate and climate change – «energy from a renewable source and reduction of the risk of fire».

 

 

The EIA also contemplates the construction of an electrical line, which will connect the power station to the Estoi substation of the National Electric Network (REN), in the municipality of Faro, with an estimated length of 6,5 kilometers, «distributed over 21 supports».

«The deployment area is located in the parish of Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo, in the municipality of Tavira.
(…) With regard to the project for the electrical line and study corridor, these cover the Union of Parishes of Conceição and Estoi, in the municipality of Faro, the union of the parishes of Moncarapacho and Fuseta, in the municipality of Olhão, the parish of São Brás de Alportel, in the municipality of São Brás de Alportel, and the parish of Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo, in the municipality of Tavira», reads still in the Environmental Impact Study.

Those interested in knowing the project in detail can see all parts on the Participa.pt website, including maps and the Non-Technical Summary of the EIA.

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