The Environmental Impact Study of the lake city mega-project in Vilamoura has received an “unfavorable opinion” by the Municipality of Loulé. The project has large environmental impacts, as it foresees the construction of buildings around four saltwater lakes, and also due to its large urban mass, from which 2400 beds would arise. The work would be developed in two phases and would be completed in ten years.
The Environmental Impact Assessment Commission (CAIA), led by the Regional Coordination Commission (CCDR), will meet this Friday to decide on the future of the project, one of the largest proposed tourism enterprises in the region.
In September of last year, CAIA decided to make some adjustments to the project, namely, in the reduction of 1.5 hectares to the green zone, which reduced the total space from 7.2 hectares to 5.7. However, the changes resulted in more penalties and the municipality of Loulé decided to change the condition from “favorable with conditions” to “unfavorable”, since the project does not meet the standards and exceeds the proposed guidelines.
The mega-enterprise was classified as of Potential National Interest (PIN) 12 years ago, which gives it acquired rights. However, the recent changes ended up changing the course of the situation. CAIA was already warning about problems related to changes in the local environment, highlighting that these should not be overlooked.
The sustainability assessment of the project, therefore, lacks “rigor and does not present concrete measures to prevent, eradicate and/or control problems and situations” such as flooding in the coming decades, as a possible result of climate change, says the civic movement ‘Pela Ribeira de Quarteira’, in a document signed by lawyer Rui Amores and architect Lucinda Caetano.
As for societal effects, the promoter Lusotur, does not hide the fears of “the excessive burden that the presence of residential and tourist occupations may have on the beaches of Vilamoura”. As a solution, the project estimates the construction of a park next to Falésia beach. It is not known whether the park would be public or private.
Furthermore, the environmental association Almargem asked the Government to fail the urban project for the Lacustrine City of Vilamoura, in Loulé, which it classifies as “retrograde” and with “gigantic and irreversible” environmental impacts, said Luís Brás, a member of the association. “Destroying nature and rebuilding it in another location is, at the very least, original”, he highlighted. For the association, this project “never presented alternatives to environmental impacts”, having always been seen as “consummated and that had to be” despite “being already out of time”.
Almargem says there are “legal reasons to suspend projects like this, old and out of touch with reality”. For this reason, they conclude that CAIA’s decision must be “the issuance of an unfavourable Environmental Impact Statement”.