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Court setback for Ria Formosa demolitions

demolishLoulé’s Administrative Court has refused an application by the Polis Litoral Ria Formosa company for its contractors to move forward with the demolition of allegedly illegal houses on Faro island.

Various individual lawsuits from property owners must be heard and judged before Polis can continue, or not, to knock down the properties. Despite knowing this ruling, Polis has continued to demolish properties on Faro island and other of the Ria Formosa islands, including Coco island, in recent days with some properties being broken into and flattened without the necessary court orders having been served.

Many of these houses had building permission from the local council, owners for years have been paying local rates and service charges but the Polis Ria Formosa management had tried to get around the estimated 20 injunctions to suspend the demolitions by claiming it was in the "public interest" to knock down properties before judgments were announced for these cases.

The Polis arguments were weak and Loulé court judges kicked out its "serious harm to the public interest" application.

Polis Litoral Ria Formosa's destruction of property continues apace with February 25th being another deadline for a further batch houses to be vacated. The penalty for not moving out is that the owner later will be charged for the cost of demolition.

The president of the Polis Ria Formosa company, Sebastião Teixeira, said that taking possession of the houses still is legal as despite court appeals the Polis process can continue.

Teixeira is keen to get as many knocked down before a long overdue political debate starts in Lisbon early in March.

On Monday the demolitions continued apace on Coco island in plain view of concerned tourists enjoying the sunshine in the cafes in front of Olhão’s markets.

This small island has been inhabited continuously for over 40 years by several families of fishermen and shellfish nurserymen.  As the machinery continued its work throughout the day, flattening shelters and homes, any political will to halt the destruction while properly debating the situation appears to have evaporated.

Polis Litoral Ria Formosa continues in its mission to remove as many fishermens' properties as possible from the islands while leaving luxury developments on the mainland. These mysteriously have escaped destruction despite the same Maritime Dominion laws applying to both areas.

This leaglised vandalism in the period before full discussion in Lisbon marks the Polis Litoral Ria Formosa management as unwilling to enter into the democratic process and continue in its quest to remove as many properties as possible.

Locals' firmly held belief that the state intends to lease beach concessions and allow up-market tourism development has yet to be refuted by those politicians behind this 'social terrorism,' as they still try to hide behind their long forgotten environmental arguments.

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© Joao Valentim 2105