The environmentalist association Almargem asked the Government to fail the urban project of the Lacustrine City of Vilamoura, in Loulé, which it classifies as “retrograde” and with “gigantic and irreversible” environmental impacts a member of the association, told Lusa.

“The impacts are proportional to the size of the project: gigantic and irreversible. It directly affects an important area for the conservation of nature, which it will simply destroy”, said Luis Lás, from Almargem to Lusa.

The project, which was in public consultation until 21 May, covers an area of ??57.4 hectares, including the construction of 834 accommodation units, 1,150 housing units - a total of 2,506 tourist beds -, restaurants and a set of lakes fed by sea water and interconnected by channels.

According to the environmentalist association, it is "clearly and literally a project from the past, out of step with the present reality", which seems to ignore "the future of climate change, sea level rise, the European Ecological Pact and the new post-pandemic paradox for tourism in the Algarve”.

The Lacustrine City of Vilamoura was designed in the 1960s, but only came off the paper in 1994, having obtained its first favourable Environmental Impact Statement (DIA) in 2009. 12 years ago the project was classified as of Potential National Interest (PIN), which gives acquired rights.

The project whose public consultation ended a week ago refers only to the subdivision, after the previous consultation process was suspended, in September 2019, by the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR), for the promoter to change the project and reduce the negative effects on the environment.

The environmental impact study of the aquatic component, on the other hand, had a favourable opinion conditioned by mitigation and compensation measures, but which Almargem considers insufficient.

“Destroying a natural reed and rebuilding it in another location is, at the very least, original”, justified Luis Brás.

For the association, this project “never presented alternatives to environmental impacts”, having always been seen as “consummated and that had to be” despite “being already out of time”.

As an example, Luís Brás highlighted the fact that “the impacts of climate change, rising sea levels and the need to preserve the coastal strip, one of the requirements of the new legal framework, were not taken into account”.

For all the impacts presented, the association claims that the Portuguese State “has more than reasons to fail the project”.

If they do not do so, Almargem considers that “the conditions have been met to present a complaint at European level for failure by the State to protect nature”, concludes Luis Brás.

The project requires the diversion of the Tisnado valley, the silting of the mouth of the Quarteira stream and the construction of a flood protection dike, along 1,998 metres in length and presenting a variation between 15 and 170 metres in width.