The landfill in the eastern Algarve receives urban waste from half of the Algarve municipalities - Alcoutim, Castro Marim, Faro, Loulé, Olhão, São Brás de Alportel, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António -, with the other half being sent to the west, in Portimão.
The association claims that the construction of a third cell on the site “occurred prior to its licensing and without Environmental Impact Assessment”.
According to Zero, the public consultation, that has now ended, was a “ruse” to evade the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and “hides that the work to expand the landfill, which started in 2017 and was completed in 2018, with the construction of cell C”, should have been subject to EIA, “as provided by law”.
Therefore, according to the environmental association, the landfill site has been “operating illegally since 2017, when, due to the profound changes to expand the existing project, the environmental license was no longer effective”.
The association also adds that in the case of an expansion that exceeded 20 percent of the installed capacity and also of the area of installation that already existed, “the mandatory procedures” for the EIA should have been adopted.
“In either case, it appears that, once again, both the Portuguese Environment Agency and the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission were permissive to the continued illegality of non-compliance with environmental rules favouring the violator, to the detriment of the populations that have long complained about the poor management of the landfill”.
For the association, the landfill site has been responsible “for the contamination of water courses, namely Ribeira do Vascão”, and does not present a “long-term solution for the waste produced” in the area covered.
“The action of the competent authorities in relation to the contamination of surface and underground waters has been totally permissive”, they underline, suggesting that the License for the Use of Water Resources “should be more comprehensive in terms of monitoring”.
Contacted by Lusa, a source from the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) clarified that this is “an alteration of an existing installation, located in a sensitive area” of the Natura 2000 Network, which was not previously subject to EIA.
The CCDR adds that the public consultation that ended on 2 May “related to the amendment of the environmental licensing procedure and the licensing for the operation of the landfill” and that the environmental license for the Sotavento Sanitary Landfill, issued by the Portuguese Environment Agency, is valid until August 16, 2026.