Speaking at a press conference in Coimbra, after attending a meeting of the ANMP Board of Directors, Manuel Machado said: “In our view, it is necessary to create public policies that induce land economics so that abandoned land can be reused”.

He said there are situations “where landowners do not know they own the land or are unable to take on the management of their properties”.

He added that a bill currently being debated in Parliament on the topic “is a major step forward”. The head of the ANMP appealed to “all political parties with representation in Parliament to see the problem [of unclaimed land] from the point of view that [reusing] it will contribute towards the security and civil protection of communities”.

“Land is an important asset; it is useful when land is productive and not left sitting idle” particularly at times of the year such as early summer, Mr. Machado argued, notwithstanding the recently-introduced land-cleaning law to prevent and combat forest fires.

“A takeover of abandoned land by the State is, in our view, a very, very important issue” pressed the ANMP president, who is also the Mayor of Coimbra.

He clarified that common land is not being called into the equation “because this type of land has a management of its own; it has an entity of its own, [and is] protected by law” and in his view must continue “as it has hitherto”.

However, he elaborated, “there are other areas of land”, in some cases “many hectares, thousands and thousands of hectares of land, that is abandoned” and for reasons that “are known”, but lack measures to resolve the situation.

During the ANMP’s meeting it also analysed a draft decree-law to “establish a legal regime for the production of water from treated waste-water, for reuse for various purposes”, such as irrigation of public gardens or urban and industrial cleaning.

The municipalities agree with “the possibility of the correct use of this water, as long as harmful effects are avoided for individual and public health as well as for the environment”, Manuel Machado said.

This draft legislation “is an appropriate strategy for the better management of national water resources and for the country’s adaptation to climate change”, but, nonetheless, the ANMP put forward a number of “suggestions that could improve the proposal and [the waste-water’s] reuse by public systems and by populations”.

To this end, the ANMP will seek “further clarification” from the Government “on the model to be employed to operationally this new supply system”, in particular on its financing.

In related news, the first ever ‘urban cleaning association’ in Portugal has this week been launched.

It groupa together 12 municipalities “to facilitate and accelerate the necessary change in services and the habits of citizens” to promote cleaner towns and cities.

The ‘Limpeza Urbana – Parceria para Cidades + Inteligentes e Sustentáveis’ association also wants to create partnerships to achieve more intelligent and sustainable cities.

The association for now involves the municipalities and municipal companies of Águeda, Braga, Cascais, Estarreja, Funchal (Madeira), Lagoa and Madalena (both in the Azores archipelago), Mafra, Portimão, Loulé, Santarém and Viana do Castelo.

“The idea of creating the association has the main objective of bringing together all the stakeholders of urban cleanliness to facilitate and accelerate the necessary change in services and the habits of citizens” explained the president of the association, Luís Almeida Capão.