Portugal’s minister of infrastructure has welcomed the decision of the APA to make the new Montijo airport viable.
“We welcome this decision because it puts an end to a five-decade blockade on the construction of the new Lisbon airport,” Pedro Nuno Santos told reporters.
He added, that there are no environmentally neutral airports and mitigating measures would be necessary, as the APA then proposed, which could amount to €48 million.
Santos did not speak about the controversies surrounding the construction of the airport, for example, the surprise expressed by ANA - Aeroportos de Portugal, which will be responsible for the construction of the new airport, with the mitigation measures or even the possibility of complaints in Brussels or precautionary measures.
As a minister and citizen, Pedro Nuno Santos stated that he wants the mitigating measures to be adopted, although he also wants the next steps to be possible so that finally, the country, after 50 years of studying locations, can have the airport capacity of the Lisbon region.
The APA issued the proposed Environmental Impact Statement (DIA) for the Montijo airport and respective accessibility, with the decision being ‘conditional favourable’, enabling the project.
The mayor of Montijo, Nuno Canta, said that he is ‘optimistic’ with the favourable environmental impact assessment from the APA on the construction of the future airport at the Montijo Air Base.
“I am optimistic and positive about this environmental impact assessment, which is one of the most participated ever and in which most of the issues and the so-called environmental impacts of the airport were discussed,” said Nuno Canta.
“We were among the first to say that any airport infrastructure in Montijo would necessarily have to have an environmental framework, would have to respond to the environmental values present in the territory and it seems to me that this study, from what I know, responds to the major problems that an airport normally creates,” he added.
The decision is favourable but includes a package of measures to minimise an environmental compensation that amount to about €48 million, particularly for issues related to noise, mobility and birdlife.
According to the mayor, the solutions found are adequate - to create new habitats, recover the abandoned salt pans that exist in Montijo and elsewhere in this region, he said.
Confronted with the concerns expressed by some experts and environmental protection associations, who not only warn of the environmental damage caused by the new airport, but also say it is a solution that may have a very short lifespan, of only 20/30 years, Nuno Canta said that the most important thing now is to ensure the implementation of precautionary measures of the Environmental Impact Statement.
He said that some experts who oppose the decision are neglecting one fact - that the Montijo Air Base airport covers about 1,000 hectares, three times larger than Lisbon airport.
“It is a top airbase, but the country now needs to use it as a civil airport so the Air Base will continue to operate and there is room for a civil airport,” added Nuno Canta.
The mayor of Montijo also recalled that the future Montijo airport, if necessary, has the capacity for two runways to take off and land simultaneously.
While the project has seen support from the authorities and government, it has been met with opposition from the Portuguese Ecologist Party “The Greens” (PEV), who have expressed “deep concern” about the decision to make the new airport of Montijo viable and accused the socialist government of allying itself with the multinational Vinci.
PEV leaders said that “the people in Moita and Barreiro will be confined to the walls of their homes without being able to open doors or windows so as not to be affected by noise” and, “at the level of mobility”, say that “the proposal to buy two ferries is to ‘throw sand’ in people’s eyes”, because “the needs of the Metropolitan Area [of Lisbon] are not compatible with the purchase of just two vessels”.
“For ‘The Greens’, the Socialist government, has once again decided to ally itself with a multinational instead of defending the Portuguese and their natural heritage.The public interest would require that the environmental and safety criteria of people and the territory come first,” the text added.
Among the main environmental concerns are bird life, noise and mobility.
According to the APA, this declaration comes “following the equally favourable opinion, issued by the Evaluation Committee composed of dozens of experts and public administration bodies.
The project aims to ensure the construction of a civil airport in Montijo Air Base as a secondary airport for Lisbon, aiming at the distribution of air traffic destined for the Lisbon region and the accessibility of road connecting the A12 to the new airport.
On 8 January, ANA - Aeroportos de Portugal and the state signed the agreement for the expansion of Lisbon airport capacity, with an investment of €1.15 billion until 2028 to increase the current Lisbon airport and transform Montijo air base into a new airport.