“There is no reason, in any document made available in the public consultation, to support the need for a project of this scale and in this specific location. The arguments used, which are purely economic, lead us to interpret that this project is yet another step by the operators in privatizing the Douro River, transforming it into a theme park, drowned in uncontrolled mass tourism, based on a quest to maximize third-party profits without considering the concerns of environmental associations and the local population”, criticizes Paulo Leal, resident of the Destilaria Residence Building, in a note sent to the press.

Residents of Vila Nova de Gaia accuse the City Council of Gaia and the APDL of having transformed the public consultation, which ended this Wednesday, June 14, into a “mere pro forma, completely disregarding the concerns of Gaia residents and citizens.”

“Excessive tourism”

Excessive tourism and concerns about the sustainability of the Douro are among the main concerns of residents, since, according to APDL projections, it is estimated that, in 2035, there will be a fleet of 37 hotel ships in the Douro and one total of 125,500 annual passengers, numbers that represent increases of 48% and 26% compared to the most recent numbers, respectively.

“The preservation of the Douro's unique conditions is in the interest of the country and the municipality. By accepting these numbers, APDL implicitly assumes that one should not study, in advance, the threshold of sustainability and the Douro's tourist assimilation capacity", adds the information released by residents, who accuse APDL of having failed in the response " to all the
environmental impacts of this project, not presenting, for example, calculations and measures to minimize the risk of fuel spillage”.


For this reason, residents are indignant at the “disrespect for the preservation of the Douro River,” not least because, as Paulo Leal points out, APDL considers that dredging of 23,000m3 and the extortion of 9,000m2 of riverbank end up producing “positive, irreversible impacts of high significance”.

Despite the concerns, the group of residents was only received by the APDL, despite having requested several meetings with decision-makers and entities involved in the
process, with the entity responsible for managing the waterway referred to the public consultation process.

“So far, the only entity that has received us has been the APDL, which referred everything to the
public consultation process and showed little concern for the well-being of the
people of Gaia who live here every day, showing that it values ​​an uncontrolled tourist growth of people who they come here once and never come back”, reiterates José Filipe Mesquita, another of the residents of Gaia who is against the construction.

Residents consider that this new construction, to be located in Cais do Cavaco, will be “megalomaniacal” in size, since it will have an area of ​​6,200m2 and 10 meters high directly over the Douro, which, according to this group of residents, will contribute to “the disfigurement of the bank of the Douro, on the historic hillside of Vila Nova de Gaia”.

“In his opinion, the project contributes to irreversibly distort the geomorphological, environmental, historical and cultural heritage in an area classified as World Heritage of Humanity and an integral part of the Historic Center of Vila Nova de Gaia,” adds the information released by the group of residents.

These residents ask for a “true public discussion, more in-depth studies and greater scrutiny in the decision-making process,” not least because they were only consulted more than two years after the start of the project study and guarantee that they will take this issue “in all instances.”

“For these families, who came together without any political agenda, the Douro River, the public heritage and the quality of life of local populations cannot be constantly neglected in favour of uncontrolled economic and tourist growth,” concludes the group of residents.


A passionate Irish journalist with a love for cycling, politics and of course Portugal especially their sausage rolls.

Rory Mc Ginn