Expatica news

Vilamoura Lake City plans are “an attack on the environment”, says non-profit organisation

lake cityThe proposed project is called “Lacustre City”, and is a mega venture of over 57 hectares, with residences, tourist accommodation, restaurants, and lakeside zones. All of this is planned to take place in Vilamoura, an environmentally sensitive area.

Almargem, a non-profit organization, is against the project, and intends to bring it to the attention of the European Union. “Such a project is an attack, and a replication of past mistakes,” says Anabela Santos, head of this association.

“It is unclear how in 2019 we still want to do such projects. It’s another megalomaniacal venture in an area where it makes no sense.” she stated. However, in the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) done in order to assess the impacts of the construction, it is recognized that the project, estimated at 670 million euros, will be carried out in an “area qualified as sensitive”: in the river basin of Quarteira, and near the Roman Ruins of Cerro da Vila.

In archaeological terms, the EIA guarantees that Cerro da Vila “will not suffer any damage”. In addition, it reveals that an Archaeological Reserve Area will be created in the area, forbidding construction of subdivisions near the ruins.

But the main argument against the project is not archaeological. The land also has “a floristic and high vegetation diversity”.

This project is not new, and has been repudiated by Almargem, as well as other national environmental associations, in the past since right after its announcement.

In 2008, Lacustre City was considered a National Potential Interest Project (PIN): a special category for large investments that gives them a free pass to not comply with some planning regulations. Ten years later, in 2018, the PIN status was renewed. But all this has yet another particularity.

The Lacustre City foresees the construction of urbanizations, but also four lakes and saltwater channels. The latter projects, which have a ‘natural connection’, as recognized in the Environmental Impact Study, were presented separately, as if they had nothing to do with each other.

Anabela Santos cannot understand how this “break up” was looked over. “The impact has to be measured together, obviously,” she said.

In the case of lakes, the biologist has no doubt that they are harmful. “We will see the destruction of the entire Vilamoura reed bed. If we are to build artificial saltwater lakes, there could be freshwater aquifers underneath. There is always the risk of contamination and salinization, making the water in those aquifers no longer drinkable” she claimed.

Moreover, Santos questions whether “we need another venture in that area?” She believes that it will only increase the human pressure on the region.

This whole project is believed to involve landscape alteration, increased water use, soil destruction, high noise levels, and the occupation of an area of ??high biodiversity. In an attempt to mitigate possible floods, not only from lakes but also from urban areas, the project foresees that a large dike will be built along the left bank of Ribeira de Quarteira.

According to the Environmental Impact Study, the dike area will also allow “use for a pedestrian, jogging, and cycling routes, with areas for leisure”.