The battle of the islands has moved to Armona where a high profile case leaves the Olhão mayor exposed and a couple from the UK out of pocket, close to despair and determed to warn foreigners thinking of investing in Portugal.
Paul Roseby and James Tod bought two adjoining plots on Armona, applied to the council for planning consent and were awarded a building licence for their dream home on this dreamy Ria Formosa island.
Villagers on the Ria Formosa island of Culatra say they will stand between the machines and 50 properties due for demolition when contractors arrive to flatten them.
Polis Litoral Ria Formosa, the company intent on seeing properties remoevd from the isalnds, despite the Minister of the Environment saying to parliament that demolition cases will be discussed on a ‘one by one’ basis, already have taken administrative possession under the protection of 40 Maritime Policemen, leaving the islanders little hope of consultation and engagement to resolve this long-running issue.
Community associations from the Ria Formosa villages of Culatra, Hangares and Farol have banded together in a a last-ditch attempt at halting the planned demolition of their houses in a heart-felt appeal to the President of the Republic of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo da Sousa.
In the letter sent on Saturday to the president and to newsrooms, the various groups of threatened island villagers have outlined the urgency of the problems they face, the lack of clarity and the constant threats they have suffered from successive Governments.
The forcible possession of houses in the village of Hangares on the Ria Formosa island of Culatra, continued today amid more tension, anger and calls for the Minister of the Environment to stick to the promises he made in parliament.
Around 200 protestors were at times forcibly held back by 40 Maritime Police as locals and supporters gathered by those houses being spray-painted with a case number by five Polis Litoral staff to indicate that the property will be torn down.
The leader of Portugal’s Left Bloc took the time to visit the Ria Formosa island of Culatra this Sunday on a fact finding mission and to talk to residents threatened by eviction and the destruction of their property by the State.
Catarina Martins concluded that it is imperative to call a halt the State’s possession and demolition of a further 60 island properties, due to happen next Wednesday, February 22nd.
Faro council has voted through a motion, "No to the demolitions, yes to the requalification" of the Ria Formosa, proposed by a CDU (Democratic union) councillor who submitted a document that demanded the recognition of the social, economic, historical and cultural value of the villages on the Ria Formosa islands and an end to the demolitions.
The motion was only just approved as the PSD (Social Democrats) and Socialist Pary concillors voted against the motion and hence, in favour of the continuing demolitions and misery for those islanders affected.
João Matos Fernandes, Portugal’s Environment Minister, tried in vain to convince MPs at a Committee on Environment, Spatial Planning and Local Government hearing today, that he knew what he was doing.
The subject under discussion was the recent flurry of demolition notices sent to householders on the Ria Formosa islands, 60 letters in total, demanding that islanders vacate their properties prior to their buildings being knocked down.
The Algarve’s Ria Formosa islanders yet again have started to receive eviction and demolition notices from the Polis Litoral Ria Formosa society as if the struggles and progress made in the last year have been erased from the memory of the Environment Minister, João Pedro Matos Fernandes.
Fifty households in the villages of Hangares and Farol have received letters even though parliament has agreed that home owners can stay put in their island properties until a plan agreed by all parties is agreed on.