Salgados Praia Grande “eco-resort” plans slammed for being “oversized, illegal, and destructive”
The Praia Grande Eco-Resort, a project planned to be constructed on the coastline between Armação de Pêra and Galé, has recently been slammed by environmental organisations. These organisations are claiming that the project “is clearly oversized, illegal, and destructive of the public heritage.”
This is no fresh story though, the proposed Salgados project has been condemned by these groups for many years, and one would hope that all the bumps the developers have experienced along the way would put them off, that doesn’t seem to be the case though.
The previous property development companies behind the “eco-resort”, Finalgarve and then Galilei both went bust, and now Millennium bank has ended up as the owner of the project. The bank isn’t deterred by the other companies’ past failures, and wants to shift the project to a new owner, appointing real estate agency CBRE, under head of development Francisco Sottomayor, to flog the development to the highest bidder.
Last month, six environmental organisations confirmed that in a joint contribution they made during the most recent public consultation phase, they demanded that the Environmental Compliance Report (RECAPE) covering the first phase of the “Praia Grande tourism mega-project” be rejected.
The environmentalists consider the report to be “incomplete in many ways and does not respond to several of the conditions legally imposed by the environmental impact assessment.
The six organisations, Almargem, A Rocha, GEOTA, League for the Protection of Nature (LPN), Quercus and the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) argue not only that the planned project clearly “is oversized, illegal and destructive of the public heritage”, but they lament the fact “that citizens have to be trying to stop this venture, and the permissiveness of central and regional authorities is almost immoral.”
The plan for the project refers to a massive area, covering more than 300 hectares, which includes 3 hotels, 2 tourist villages, 4,000 beds, a golf course, and a shopping area. It is located on the last section of undeveloped coastline in the central Algarve region, which acts a buffer between the high-rises of Albufeira and Armação de Pêra, hence why large-scale construction in this location is such a tragic prospect.
Environmental groups and citizens alike are well aware that the project, which surprised many when it was granted approval by Silves Council in 2012, can trace its roots back to the fraudulent management of BPN bank, of which Galilei and Finalgarve were subsidiaries, before they went bust.
The project was approved by the Council when Isabel Gomes was president, and caused much of a commotion amongst environmentalists due to it being against the rules in the Regional Plan for Territorial Planning (PROT-Algarve).
The environmentalists, backed by 34,222 members who have signed an on-line petition to “Save Salgados,” believe that the project “adds nothing new to the Algarve’s tourism industry and will destroy the last natural area of the coast of Silves.”
The six organizations say that the site, although of great importance, can be used for a different sort of tourism more sustainable and less destructive. They want a project that is “lighter in construction, full of nature, and more open to educational visits, not one of the many destructive mistakes that have been committed so many times in the Algarve.”
They point out that “species and habitats protected by law can be found and the area”, as it is known to be one of the most visited places for birdwatchers and other nature lovers in the Algarve.
The organisations rightly wish that “this Environmental Compliance Report will not be approved, and that the mega-project will not be allowed to move forward.” The group seem to have confidence that the Administrative and Fiscal Court of Loulé will try to shut the project down, after a wait of more than two years for a decision, with the annulment of the administrative acts that made the project feasible.
They also hope that the Silves Municipal Council will actively engage in the search for a project alternative that will not destroy the natural heritage and ecosystem of the area, “which will leave Silves and the Algarve irreversibly damaged,” concluded the associations.
As for the owner, MillenniumBPC, its strategy is to ignore the serious damage the development will cause the Algarve if the eco-Resort is allowed to go ahead, thus ignoring the public interest for financial gain.