The spot is widely regarded as one of the last few remaining undeveloped natural areas on the Portimão coastline, between the Vau and Prainha beaches.

Together, the trio of hotels would create a total of more than 600 tourist beds, about 200 metres from a crest of cliffs on a slice of coastline considered one of the last remaining ‘green lungs’ in the area.

The CCDR’s unfavourable opinion delivered on 3 May was preceded by an unfavourable opinion from the Evaluation Committee responsible for the technical analysis of the Environmental Impact Study (EIA).

The Evaluation Committee considered that, regardless of the measures proposed in the EIA for the mitigation, prevention and compensation of the identified impacts, “the project does not meet the conditions to be feasible, particularly in relation to factors such as Biodiversity and Landscape”.

In addition to the destruction of almost three hectares of one of the most representative vegetal species that is exclusive to Western Algarve and protected by the Natura 2000 network, the committee said there would be irreversible impacts on the structural and scenic quality of the area, which could compromise the identity of one of the best-preserved and original regional coastal landscape features.

The planned urban-tourist occupation is part of a territorial plan framework which, in conjunction with other similar instruments still in force, provide for a global potential buildability for the 500-metre stretch of the Algarve coastline estimated at around 20,000 beds.

The CCDR’s red flag will no doubt be welcome news to a citizens group formed earlier this year to oppose the project.

The ‘Citizens United against Construction in João d’Arens’ movement considered the develop-ment of the area a “destru-ction of the last natural stronghold existing on the coast of the municipality of Portimão, with an appreciable natural value”.

“The spot is covered by distinctive vegetation of many conifers, exotic plants and native plants. It is one of few places in the Algarve where Linaria Algarviana is found, and in cliff areas the very rare Cynomorium coccineum.

“The avifauna is abundant given the location very close to the Ria de Alvor, a site that is integrated in the Natura 2000 Network, as well as the proximity of the estuary of the river Arade.

“The spot has been chosen by many nature guides to show their clients from the most varied parts of the world and who want to know and enjoy the natural beauty of the region”, the group argued.