On 2 March, the aviation regulator refused to evaluate a plan to build a controversial new airport planned for Montijo on the southern bank of the Tagus River, essentially leaving the project dead in the water however, the government is not leaving it there.
The National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) said it had rejected the evaluation request submitted by airport authority ANA as not all municipalities in and around the new airport were happy with the plans, with some citing environmental concerns.
Reacting to the decision, the government said it would propose different solutions for the impasse, including building the airport elsewhere and also re-evaluating the laws allowing municipalities to veto plans of “national importance”.
In a statement regarding the decision, ANAC states that, "the Decree-Law determines that it constitutes a basis for preliminary rejection in the absence of a favourable opinion from all municipal councils in the potentially affected municipalities [… ] ".
This judgement has obliged ANAC “to reject the request outright, in compliance with the principle of legality (…) with no technical assessment of the merit of the project".
Following the ruling from ANAC, the Government has stated that legislation will now be revised to eliminate what it considers to be the veto allowed to municipalities in the development of infrastructures of national and strategic interest, such as the location of the new airport.
"In this sense, and taking into account the current legal framework in force, to ensure that it has conditions to be implemented, the Government will, from now on, promote the revision of Decree-Law no. 186/2007, of 10 May, as amended by Decree-Law No. 55/2010, of 31 May, in the sense of eliminating what constitutes, in practice, a veto of power of local authorities in the development of these infrastructures of national and strategic interest ”, adds the statement.
Three options remain
Meanwhile, the government is continuing to forge ahead with plans to expand the Lisbon airport offering three possible solutions in discussion.
The Ministry of Infrastructure explains that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) will “promote an assessment that compares” three solutions: the current dual solution, in which Humberto Delgado Airport will have the status of main airport and Montijo Airport as the complementary airport, the second would see Montijo Airport progressively acquire the status of the main airport and Humberto Delgado Airport as complementary airport and finally, the construction of a new international airport in Lisbon at Campo de Tiro de Alcochete is the third option.
ANA has stated in reaction to the ruling that the company will analyse the legal terms of the ANAC decision.
"ANA will analyse the legal terms presented by ANAC [National Civil Aviation Authority], which do not coincide with the legal opinions of Professor Doutor Vital Moreira and Professor Doutor Paulo Otero, attached to the application delivered [to the regulator]", a source from ANA told Lusa news agency.
The company told Lusa, that they continue to believe that the “Montijo solution will be the one that will best respond to the country's interests”.