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Imposition of oil exploration ‘violates democratic principles’

OilAriealShotSmallSeveral environmental organisations have accused the Galp-Eni consortium and the government of “violating democratic principles” with the “imposition” of exploration and drilling rights for oil off the Alentejo and Vincentian coast, despite stiff opposition from citizens and local councils.

“The imposition of this activity by the Galp-Eni consortium and the Government on the communities of the Algarve and Alentejo is a violation of democratic principles that require transparent, conscious and participative governance,” states the group of 28 environmental organisations in a letter sent to national media.

The anti-oil organisations say they are concerned about the possibility of oil drilling starting in 2018 and urge those councils affected to oppose the 2018 work plan recently issued by the consortium and sent to councils for their opinion.

“With the announcement of the delivery of the Work Plan for 2018, submitted by the Galp-ENI consortium to the Government, the exploration and drilling for oil and gas in the Alentejo Basin in 2018 again is on the table,” they warn.

Highlighting the various protests by the local community against oil exploration, the environmentalists refer to the 2016 petition in which 42,295 citizens were anti-oil and “only four were in favour.” This petition was ignored by the government.

The group also recalls the recent council opposition to the oil exploration process, namely the councils of the Algarve and Alentejo Litoral and the inter-communal communities of the Algarve (AMAL) and Alentejo Litoral (CIMAL).

The government formally has requested an opinion from the municipal councils of Santiago do Cacém, Sines, Odemira, Aljezur, Vila do Bispo and Lagos on the oil companies’ work plan, and the environmentalists urge councils to “maintain your position and issue an opinion against.”

With the entry into force of Law no. 82/2017 this August, prior consultation of councils in the exploration and exploration areas became mandatory, but any such opinions are not binding.

The environmental movements reaffirm their opposition to the process and their “commitment to stop exploration and drilling for oil and gas in the Alentejo Basin and in Portugal” and urge “all citizens to take an active stance.”

The document sent to national media was signed by Alentejo Litoral for the Environment (ALA), Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association (ASMAA), Climáximo, Climate Collective, Clean Future, Preserve Aljezur, Stop Petróleo Vila do Bispo, Tamera, Tavira in Transition, Red Line Campaign and the Rota Vicentina Association and is supported by the Algarve Free Petroleum Platform (PALP).

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