Classification of Lagoa dos Salgados at risk after court decision

Supreme Administrative ruled in favor of the promoter who wants to create a mega-enterprise in Lagoa dos Salgados

Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

The classification of Lagoa dos Salgados as a Natural Reserve may be at risk or the size of this protected area may be severely limited, following the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court, which ruled in favor of the company that wants to build a mega-project in the Praia area. Grande, in Silves, a ruling to which the Sul Informação had access.

In practice, the court considered that the project obtained a favorable Declaration of Environmental Conformity (DECAPE) by tacit approval, because the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) did not respond in a timely manner to an evaluation request made by the promoter of the project. mega-enterprise, Finalgarve, a company of the Millenium/BCP group, in September 2017.

In December of that year, CCDR Algarve even issued an unfavorable DECAPE, based on opinions requested from various entities, but it did so after the legal period of 50 days to respond to the request made to it had expired.

The process continued, and in 2018 there was a new request for a Declaration of Environmental Conformity from Finalgarve, which CCDR Algarve also denied – as demanded, moreover, six NGOs.

In both cases, the CCDR's decision was justified, to a large extent, by an opinion from the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests, unfavorable to the progress of the project, due to the fact that Lagoa dos Salgados is the habitat of the algarvian linaria, a species of plant that occurs in this humid zone and that needs vast natural areas to subsist.

It was, moreover, an opinion presented to the Government by the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), which reported the presence of this plant, which generated the conditions for the favorable DIA and prolonged the entire process.

In the first instance, the Administrative and Fiscal Court of Sintra (TAFS), to which Finalgarve appealed, accepted the CCDR's arguments that there could be no tacit approval, because Finalgarve not only did not contest the decision, in December 2017, but also carried out new explorations on the ground to find the algarvian linaria, which would indicate that it would have accepted the arguments used by the CCDR when it gave an unfavorable opinion to this first request.

The company did not comply and appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, which, in the end, after analyzing the arguments of both parties, decided to “revoke the appealed sentence [of the TAFS] and partially judge the action, annulling the contested act and deeming it unfounded the condemnatory requests”.

While this legal battle was ongoing, the idea of ​​creating the Lagoa dos Salgados Natural Reserve had a decisive development, with the launch of public discussion of the proposal to create this protected area.

However, right at that time, Millenium/BCP threatened that he would ask for millionaire compensation, if the Natural Reserve progressed, believing that the court would agree and recognize the declaration of favorable environmental impact as valid, as ended up happening.

In light of the most recent developments, this is just one of the scenarios that arise in the now uncertain future of Lagoa dos Salgados, which has not yet been classified as a Natural Reserve.



07/12/2007 – The Municipal Assembly of Silves approves, on a proposal from the Municipal Council (CMS), the Detailed Plan (PP) of the Operational Subunit of Planning and Management II of Praia Grande.
22/06/2012 - Signing of the urban development contract
07/11/2012, 11/09/2013 and 09/07/2014 - Approval on these three dates, by deliberation of CMS, of the subdivision and urbanization works projects
07/02/2013 – The UE1 project, in the preliminary study phase, is submitted to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
30/10/2013 – CCDR Algarve issues a favorable Environmental Impact Statement (EIA) conditioned
05/06/2015 – Notification of “Finalgarve- Sociedade de Produção Imobiliária e Turistica, SA” to comment on the proposal to amend the DIA, in a prior hearing
22/06/2015 – CCDR Algarve approves an amendment to the DIA
03/08/2017 – The Municipality of Silves issues the Allotment Permit no.
29/09/2017 – RECAPE on general EU infrastructure1 is submitted
20/10 to 10/11/2017 – Public discussion takes place (reference to the judicial process to challenge DIA running at TAF de Loulé
15/11/2017 - Extension of the validity of the DIA
18/12/2017 - Submission of the unfavorable DECAPE proposal for pronunciation in the preliminary hearing phase
13/07/2018 - Issue of unfavorable DECAPE by CCDR Algarve
24/07/2018 - Presentation of complaint by Finalgarve
22/11/2018 - The company filed an administrative action at the Sintra TAF for declaration of nullity/annulment of the unfavorable DECAPE and for recognition of its legal position arising from the tacit favorable DECAPE, as a constitutive act of rights
11/2/2019 – Deliberation, by CMS, to suspend the effectiveness of the Allotment Permit no.
14/05/2021 - Decision of the Sintra TAF, which judges the action totally unfounded
07/06/2021 - CCDR informs the company of ICNF's position
September/2021 – Millenium/BCP sends ICNF two legal opinions, authored by professors Fernanda Paula Marques de Oliveira and Dulce Lopes (University of Coimbra Law School) and João Miranda and Diogo Calado (University of Law School) Lisbon)
November/2021 – Ministry of the Environment and ICNF announce the proposal to classify Lagoa dos Salgados as a protected area of ​​national scope
December 9, 2021 to January 20, 2022 - Public discussion
January 2022 - Pending appeal filed with the STA
September 7, 2023 – STA agrees with Finalgarve


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