The controversial project to develop the wetlands, saw the courts halting all works in May, much to the delight of environmental associations who have been fighting to keep the wetlands in their natural state.

One of the associations, Almargem, claimed that Lagoa council did not carry out an environmental impact study on the project with CCDR Algarve.

At the time the Almargem spokesman said: “Now the Municipality of Lagoa will have to send the Almargem study to CCDR Algarve so that, in the context of prior assessment, it can assess the potential impacts of the urbanisation project and the subsequent construction of a commercial area. CCDR Algarve will have a period of 20 working days to make this prior assessment”.

The president of Lagoa Council, Luis Encarnação, has now released a statement attesting to the fact that they have followed the necessary procedures and have sent all the documentation on Alagoas Brancas to the Algarve’s Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) as indicated by the Administrative Court and Tax (TAF) of Loulé.

“Our position is very simple, we want to safeguard the interests of the municipality and whatever is decided by the court, the municipality will comply with and will enforce it,” the mayor told Lusa.

According to Luis Encarnação, the Council of Lagoa sent “on May 26” the judge’s order and “all documentation to CCDR” for it to rule and on June 30, given the “absence of any position” and because “ the judge had only given 20 days”, they again “alerted CCDR” of the need for a decision.

“It is completely wrong to say that the municipality of Lagoa has not commented, because it does not have to. It is CCDR that has to do this, listening to those who have to be listened to”, he stressed.

The mayor explained that Alagoas Brancas is included in the urbanisation plan of the Planning Unit (UP) 3 approved by the chamber in 2009 “which is still in force, even after the approval of a new Municipal Master Plan (PDM)”.

However, he stressed that, with what he knows today about the area and if it were his executive to decide, “most likely the area would not be considered for industry and services”, but instead as “a rustic area, as stated in the current PDM” which awaits publication in the Diário da República.

“In the future, when the urbanisation plan collapses, it will no longer be possible to build, but until then, the UP3 is in force, hierarchically superior to the PDM as indicated by legislation”, he said.

Luis Encarnação said that when the urbanisation plan was approved in 2009, “more than twenty entities had to speak out” and there was also a public consultation “without anyone being against it”, after two commercial areas had already been built “which are part of the same plan”.

Asked by Lusa about the receipt of the documents, CCDR Algarve declined to comment, adding that it “requested the administrative collaboration of the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) and the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), specific entities in water resources and nature conservation, in order to respond to the Municipality of Lagoa and the Court on the pertinence of an Environmental Impact Study, foreseeing that a well-founded position may be issued during the next week”.