Alagoas Brancas in Lagoa is one of the few remaining freshwater lagoons in the Algarve. It is currently, almost totally fenced off as it awaits approval for a developer to drain it, concrete over it, and construct a supermarket there. The exact location is adjacent to an Aldi supermarket, which just so happens to be next to an Apolonia supermarket – there is much-justified opposition locally and from environmental bodies, but sadly money talks as usual.
The site is an important location for the many bird and insect species which inhabit this part of the Algarve.
However, a 97-page report published online back in June hammered what could be the final nail in intentions of Lagoa Council to press forwards with “obsolete plans” to “urbanise” the town’s signature wetland.
That same month, at the time deputy mayor Luís Encarnação (now mayor) was seen telling national television that the council “has no document that allows it to make a decision to suspend the town’s 11-year-old urbanisation plan”.
But this latest document not only fills such a requirement in scientific spades, it also warns of the potentially disastrous consequences of not suspending the plan.
The study, financed by the government’s environmental fund, states that any kind of building on the freshwater lagoon site could lead to the area’s collapse, not only in terms of the ecosystem, but physically, and the contamination of aquifers that supply local farms and domestic boreholes with potable water.
Compiled by technicians from SPEA (Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds) and researchers from the universities of the Algarve and Lisbon, the report explains “there is a real threat to the stability of this zone as it is a karstic area with active tectonics which could collapse due to excess surface load”.
Simply put, this means that the Alagoas Brancas lagoons sit on the kind of rock formations that absorb water and form underground caverns and sinkholes.
Active tectonics imply the risk of earth-movement in the event of tremors, which the Algarve region is regularly witness to.
Furthermore, the study highlights the critical importance not only of saving the lagoon and its wealth of flora and fauna, but of recuperating it in the interests of future generations.
The report states: “In view of the uniqueness of the species present in the area, the creation of a statute of protection is essential”.
Repeated calls to the council have been unable to find anyone prepared to discuss the Alagoas Brancas “impasse” – which still sees the municipality’s position as being that construction for supermarket infrastructures “cannot be stopped”.
Various sources who have attempted to communicate their concerns to council officials have ben pinballed between officials,and so far all attempts at meeting a solution have been fruitless.
What is certain is that the document will make it far more difficult now for the council to carry on regardless and uphold the urban plan that has been so blatantly refused by so many individuals, with the exception of “the interested parties”, who have been cited by various reports online as supermarket chain Sonae.
An online petition aiming to block the plans set for the retail surfacing of the wetland vestige that gave the town of Lagoa its name has gathered around 3,100 signatures. The petition points out that the wetlands, in the immediate vicinity of the FATACIL exhibition park, have proved to be an important winter wetland locations for some rare bird species, notably the black ibis, as the Algarve environmental organization Almargem attests.
The petition can be found here: https://peticaopublica.com/mobile/pview.aspx?pi=PT84449&fbclid=IwAR1EIf-MWYBKshrPPHxPVMMtcBBKeM5nFG5wxtivAnQteFZUpVsmjT8oaR0
The Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/alagoasbrancas/