Members of ‘Citizens Against Construction at João de Arens,’ in fierce opposition to the construction of hotels in countryside on the Portimão coastline, have been prevented from accessing the planning documents by the local Council.
The plan, proposed by two Portuguese property development companies and a Spanish hospitality company, announced a project to construct three hotels with a total of 411 rooms in the parish of Alvor, Portimão.
The construction in the countryside at ??the tip of João de Arens, an area of unparalleled beauty on the coast, is in public consultation until March 15, but the group, ‘Grupo de Cidadãos Contra a Construção no João de Arens,’ has demanded of the Algarve’s Regional Coordination and Development Committee (CCDR-Algarve) that the deadline be extended by 15 days due to the Council’s illegal blocking of citizens’ rights to see the detailed plan.
The group says that the documentation has been requested, face to face, at the Council’s offices but twice these legal requests have been denied.
The Council is playing a dangerous game as by denying the documentation during the public consultation period, the group could push the Administrative Court to have the project scrapped even though the development, astonishingly, already has an environmental green light, issued in 2007, following a 2007 Environmental Assessment and its Environmental Report which had a ‘favourable’ opinion from the CCDR-Algarve.
The €45 million development is for the construction of three hotels, with a maximum of three floors, or 15 meters, with a total of 411 rooms. The overall area is ??46 hectares with the buildings occupying 1.1 hectares of land.
The developers claim the remaining countryside areas will be subject to ‘protection and enhancement of the landscape, preservation of cliffs and cliffs and their necessary consolidation, water and wetlands, as well as better public enjoyment which, in this case, will be ensured through the installation of pedestrian paths and viewing platforms.
One of the opposition’s trump cards is the presence of the developers’ nightmare, a rare and protected Algarve plant, the Linaria algarviana, which already has been key to preventing development on the cliffs at ??Benagil and Praia da Marinha, in Lagoa. The plant also is usefully deployed in blocking development at Salgados Praia Grande Eco-resort, near Armação de Pêra, Silves, in a long-running battle to preserve the countryside and wetlands from yet more hotels, golf and tourists units.
The environmental report for the João de Arens area, concludes that, “no negative impacts were identified that would make, or make unnecessary changes to the project,” a surprising conclusion as hectares of countryside being turned into a tourist resort would suggest that the impact is significant and long-lasting.
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