Opposition to the construction of hotel cluster along Portimão coast guarantees that ‘it will not tone down’
Local environmental citizenship group “The Last Window to the Sea” has revealed that they “will not tone down” their opposition to a project that foresees the construction of three hotels clustered in Ponta de João de Arens, in Portimão, which is under public consultation.
In an open letter, which followed the interview of João Jacinto, one of the promoters of the hotel project, to local news website Sul Informação, the movement stresses that, contrary to what the Areia Feliz (responsible for the hotels) company representative says, “any hotel project for João de Arens it is and will always be, without any doubt, a “confrontational project” for us and for many Portimonenses”
Jacinto stated, in his most recent interview with Sul Informação, that “it does not even cross” our “minds that the project will be failed again. In a rule of law, that would make no sense at all”.
In addition, he added, “we have been very careful and rigorous in the project, we have scrupulously corrected all issues that led to the rejection of the first EIA [in 2019] and we are carrying out the process of rehabilitation and care of the existing landscape. There will always be suggestions, or minor repairs to the project.”
However, for the opposing citizens’ movement, “for anyone who puts the benefit of a concrete project above the greater collective environmental and identity benefit”, change ”will never cross his mind. That is a fact”.
One of the issues raised by lawyer Rui Amores, who is part of this group of citizens, is that “one of the companies that own a parcel of land, with about 50 hectares, is insolvent and within the scope of that insolvency the land is being sold, as if nothing was being planned there. As if there was no urbanization plan, as there was no EIA process going on”.
This is an issue that the pro-hotel representatives of the project clarified to press. “There is no hidden card”, they guaranteed this week.
“The future H3 hotel will be built on a plot that results from the junction of 2 plots. One from Areia Feliz Lda and the other from Massa Falida by EstorilInveste, whose judicial manager is following the instructions of the judge of the process and proceeding to the sale by auction. That may or may not happen. This information appears in the files” of the public consultation.
This land, from EstorilInveste, “has a mortgage that today is held by Finangeste (before it was Banif and then Santander)” and “whoever buys that land will have 50% of the future lot that will be created following the allotment licensing process and the environmental impact statement ‘.
In another vein, “The Last Window to the Sea” also criticizes the video presented by the promoters of the project “whose sole purpose is to promote and justify the implantation of hotels, visual manipulation is evident”.
Ana Marta Costa, a biologist cited by the movement, says that “the video and the images made by the promoters make the glass buildings in scrubland be hidden among the pines that, by magic, gain more meters and multiply in a green scrub that swallows the small glass buildings“.
For Ana Marta Costa, “it is incredible as in the forest of João d’Arens, where the pines do not exceed 5-6 meters, you cannot see buildings of 12 meters. It would be a mathematical hallucination to say that the sea, the road and everywhere are well observed from the hotel. The concrete work of years and decades approved by the city’s political power would thus continue in eternal perpetuation, contributing to the uninterrupted characterization of the coast of Portimão, covering the last green window to the sea with cement”.
The movement recalls that “the project was previously unsuccessful because the CCDR heard the population in the Public Consultation, heard Science, Law and Urbanism, scientific opinions, 2,000 signatures, environmental and legal opinions and which attested the non-conformity of the project”.
In the open letter, the group says that, in the declaration of environmental impact, the CCDR wrote that “given the natural environment in presence and the singularity and fragility of the coastal front (…) landscape management in this sector of the coastal territory implies the need of protection of its structuring matrix and its identity”.
Now, for the movement, “there is no misunderstanding here as the representative of one of the promoters alleges, but serious and fundamental issues that cannot be overcome”.
Also, according to the citizens who are against the project, the decrease in the maximum height of the buildings decreased from 15 to 12 meters is “because the 15 meters violated the urbanization plan, therefore the reduction was a legal imposition and not a ‘favour’” of the pro-hotel camp.
For the citizen group, “the impact on the landscape of the three buildings and all the attached infrastructures such as access roads, parking, swimming pools and others is enormous” and “the urban parameters presented by the promoters and their pseudo-reduction are false and continue to violate the Urbanization Plan”.