Authorities evaluate ruling that could threaten future of Lagoa dos Salgados nature reserve

The Algarve’s Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) is evaluating, together with other entities, a ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court (STA) that could threaten the creation of the future Lagoa dos Salgados Nature Reserve.

At issue is a project by Finalgarve that aims to build a tourist complex in the wetland, for which an unfavourable Environmental Compliance Decision for the Execution Project (DECAPE) was issued in July 2018.

According to the Público newspaper’s online edition last Thursday, despite the unfavourable DECAPE and following an appeal by Finalgarve, the STA judges considered the act null and void “due to the lack of a decision within 50 working days”.

Questioned by Lusa news agency, the CCDR of the Algarve confirmed in a statement having received the ruling, highlighting that it is being evaluated and analysed in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action, the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) and the municipality of Silves.

“This is a situation that began in February 2013 with the submission of a request for an Environmental Impact Assessment of the urbanisation works project in the preliminary study phase”, says the CCDR, clarifying that the litigation is the issuance of an unfavourable DCAPE.

According to the CCDR, the decision is based on the defence of the Linaria algarviana plant nucleus, a protected species of community interest, whose risk of extinction in Portugal is “near threatened”.

Since the issuance of the decision in 2017, the “proponent has presented several reports on the surveys carried out on the distribution of Linaria algarviana, which confirmed the existence of this species in the location”.

On January 20, 2022, new Environmental Conformity Reports of the Execution Project (RECAPE) were presented, relating to the infrastructure and hotel project of execution unit 1 of the Detailed Plan of Praia Grande, “and a ‘non-conforming’ Execution Project Environmental Compliance Decision (DCAPE) was issued on 06/07/2022”, concluded the Algarve CCDR.

According to the ruling, dated September 7, to which Lusa had access, the STA “decided to revoke the appealed sentence and partially grant the action, annulling the contested act and dismissing the condemnatory requests as unfounded”.

The proposal to classify the Lagoa dos Salgados Natural Reserve, covered by the municipalities of Albufeira and Silves, as a national protected area was subject to public consultation in 2021, a procedure applauded by environmentalists following more than 20 years of demand.

Portugal Resident