- Created on Friday, 29 June 2012 21:05
In a positive move for birdwatchers, nature lovers and those angry and depressed at the number and size of yet more tourist hotel and golf course development proposals across the Algarve, Almargem have lodged an official complaint with the EC.
A rough translation follows, but the main points are that the Salgados lagoon, wetland and countryside area between Armaçao de Pera and the CS Groups's derelict Salgados resort, should be classified as an important and protected bird sanctuary and wildlife area. The conditions have existed for a superior classification to the one the area currently holds and the Almargem complaint suggests that major tourist developments are being fast-tracked by government, using the crisis and pressure from the Troika as convenient scapegoats.
A petition to preserve the area already has attracted many votes.
This is the translated press release from Almagem -
Almargem make a complaint to the European Commission
"A few weeks after the appointment of a new President of the CCDR Algarve the proposed destruction of the Algarve environment has come under criticism. A number of new urban-tourism projects have been announced for several areas of the Algarve and under the headings of ‘the crisis’ and the current economic situation, the Government has been 'streamlining' the approval of developments, some of which represent serious attacks on remaining areas of pristine Algarvean landscapes, whether via a blessing from the Ministry of Economy and its pursuit of money, or by the hands of a joint gang of ministries.
Being an almost unique case, the Praia Grande proposal (Salgados), in the municipality of Silves is home to one of the last strongholds of the Algarve coast not yet covered in concrete. It encompasses a number of exceptional natural features dominated by the Salgados lagoon.
The land is now in the hands of the Galilei group, recently condemned and fined by the Bank of Portugal, but which the government promises to 'lend a hand' to.
The development project, approved in 2008 in contravention of the rules of the new PROT (2007), under which it would not now be approved, is sponsored by the municipality of Silves, which by covering the area in concrete will mortgage part of the natural heritage of the area in what could be one of the final chapters of a story that should not happen.
The Salgados Lagoon remains plagued by the inability of the Portuguese effectively to manage the interests of conservation in this area, leaving it to its fate, despite the need to implement a management plan which still is delayed.
The water balance of the Salgados lagoon depends largely on maintaining the flow from a wastewater treatment plant, given the decrease in natural streams that flow to the lagoon. In the last two decades however, the retention capacity of the wetland was severely affected by the building of a golf course, in parallel with the increase of the influx of water discharges. These factors have contributed to a significant change in the hydrological balance of the lagoon, requiring an increased frequency opening up the protective sandbank to the detriment of the lagoon water quality.
The situation should have been resolved with the construction of a municipal treatment system with capacity to treat the wastewater of 130,000 inhabitants, and a consequent deactivation of the smaller plant at Pera which discharged directly into the Salgados Lagoon. To date, for reasons not yet fully understood, the system to ensure enough flow for the wetland environment has not been operational, with reduced water levels of 40% with troubling consequences. This is a serious threat in the short-term for the Salgados lagoon.
Despite the need for human intervention, the Salgados lagoon is one of the most important wetlands in the Algarve. Situated on the border between the municipalities of Silves and Albufeira, this coastal lagoon meets an exceptional set of natural values, unique in the Algarve, with particular emphasis on water birds.
There are sufficient reasons that exist to justify upgrading the classification of the Salgados lagoon, in the light of current scientific knowledge and the current legislative framework, including the Habitats and Birds Directives, but the site remains without any protection status, even though this area is already recognized as having European and international importance.
Given the situation of a lack of protected status, of poor management and the threat to the natural habitat, and taking into account that there are clear doubts about current conservation in this area, and considering that the Portuguese State has not applied in due time the Community law on nature conservation, particularly of the Birds Directive on the conservation of wild birds, the Almargem association has presented a formal complaint to the European Commission, urging it to intercede with the Portuguese state in order for it to comply with legislation and to create a Special Protection Area (SPA) at Lagoa dos Salgados.
The area is already classified as an important bird life zone and in view of the importance to the community of this area, the necessary measures are sought to maintain the conservation status of various species of birds and flora (Habitats and Birds Directives)."
Loulé, June 29, 2012
(Contact: Luis Bras - 967,170,788)
R. S. Sundays, 65 - 8100-536 Loulé