This story began when a group of residents found out about a construction plan in Matos da Picota, Loulé, which, according to the residents, consists of a dump near private properties – in some cases only 400 metres from the houses.

In addition, it is an area where many tourists pass every day. “Basically, everyone coming from Via do Infante (A22 highway) pass through the area to go to Boliqueime or Vilamoura and this is not attractive for a region that wants to be a premium destination”, said Nuno Alexandre, one of the residents who lives near where the project is planned.

“Both residents and tourists who visit the Algarve every year want to find a region without rubbish and without contamination, so that people can come here in a healthy way”, said Nuno Alexandre.

In December, Nuno Alexandre and other residents that share the same goal of stopping the project, formed a non-profit association named Associação de Moradores e Amigos da Picota (Association of Residents and Friends of Picota) and have collected signatures for a petition to halt the project.

“It doesn't make any sense to have dumps at people's doors as it will necessarily affect public health. In addition, there is also a watercourse that goes to Quarteira, which is another problem in terms of the subsoil,” he said.

This group of citizens has been meeting several entities such as Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional (CCDR), environmental associations and the council of Loulé. In addition, they have been taking part in the Municipal Assemblies to express their fears and to try to get some answers, which they successfully got.

In fact, all parties supported the cause and even the mayor of Loulé, Vítor Aleixo, personally declared himself against it. However, so far no measures have been taken to halt the project.

According to AMAP, one of the measures that can be taken is the suspension of the PDM (Municipal Management Plan). "Our role is also to find out what weapons are there to prevent this from happening", said the member of the association.

An opposing view

However, the entity responsible for the project, Blueotter, told The Portugal News that there has been a misunderstanding around this subject. “The project consists of a unit aimed at recycling and recovering valuable residues, mainly plastic and cardboard. It will also have a logistics area for trucks, containers, storage and sorting of waste for transport”, said the company.

In addition, the company says there is some confusion about the location of the future project, as “it is not an old quarry. The land that Blueotter acquired is an old unused industrial complex that was vandalised, used as a site for illegal activities and for dumping and abandoning waste, and which in the meantime has been cleaned and maintained by Blueotter, namely through the closure of access and surveillance."

They added: “Blueotter will develop a project of excellence, which will include fences. We believe that the landscape integration will be of high quality, contributing to the recovery of a very degraded and abandoned site”.

As for medical waste, the company guaranteed that "there is no medical waste project. The Blueotter Group does not carry out this activity, nor does it intend to carry it out”. Likewise, Loulé Council has already stated that there is no mention of medical waste in the process.

Furthermore, the company claims to have been surprised by the situation, “especially due to the fear of a recycling project, which contributes to the sustainability and recycling targets of the Algarve.”

Citizens not giving up

With this project, the waste operator, Blueotter “intends to expand into this area and moving to a larger area also means developing the business. This facility will probably treat waste from across the country and from Spain and Italy, because waste treatment is a very profitable business and obviously this company intends to treat apparently more profitable residues, including hazardous wastes”, said Nuno Alexandre from AMAP.

AMAP will continue to fight for the interests of the population and maintain an active role, including in other environmental and social causes, they said.

"We call on all residents to join the association." If you would like to follow AMAP, please see the Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/AMAP-Associa%C3%A7%C3%A3o-de-Moradores-e-Amigos-da-Picota-de-Loul%C3%A9-110024408221335/