Duarte Cordeiro does not see «how it will be possible» to advance the tourist mega-project planned for Lagos dos Salgados, near Praia Grande, in Silves, even after the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court, which recognized the environmental compliance of the project, by tacit approval.
The Minister of the Environment and Climate Action even warned that «common sense would be that, regardless of this [judicial] action, the prosecutor would seek an agreement».
On the fringes of inauguration of Galp's new photovoltaic park, in Alcoutim, on Friday, the member of the Government recalled that the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests identified «natural values, which are rare, in that location», so «we do not see how it is possible for the project to go ahead». “It’s very difficult for that to happen,” he reinforced.
This is even taking into account that, following the court's decision, the company promoting the tourist project now has strong arguments to demand construction rights in that location rich in biodiversity.
In practice, the Supreme Administrative 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 mega-enterprise, Finalgarve, a company from the Millenium/BCP group, in September 2017.
The STA's decision was taken after the intention to create the Lagoa dos Salgados Natural Reserve was at a very advanced stage, such that the proposal to create this protected area had already been submitted for public discussion.
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 compliance as valid, as ended up happening.
«We are available to participate, in order to look for another place for [the promoter] to carry out his project. (…) It is necessary to try to generate a balance between what are private interests and what are natural interests», considered Duarte Cordeiro.
The alternative to an agreement will most likely be years or even decades of legal battles, in which the State will have on its side the strong argument that there is biodiversity of high interest there, namely the algarvian linaria, a protected species of community interest, as well as other natural values protected by European legislation.