The Portuguese Environment Agency has confirmed the environmental viability of the airport plan, which was conditional on the Environmental Impact Declaration (DIA).
The environmental campaign groups that signed the statement announcing their decision to appeal to higher authorities are Almargem, ANP/WWF, A Rocha, GEOTA, LPN, FAPAS, SPEA and Zero.
In the statement, the organisations reiterate that the airport plan “necessarily has to be assessed in the context of an environmental assessment strategy” in which all possible options are considered.
“The construction of a new airport cannot be decided as a large project, taken out of context from the strategic planning instruments to which the country is linked,” the groups stress, adding that it “must be based on the most complete and current knowledge of all components (climatic, ecological, social, economic, etc.).”
According to the groups, several questions were left unanswered by the DIA, such as scenarios for tourism growth, alternatives to air transport (such as trains, which pollute less) or on alternatives to the Montijo site. A strategic environmental assessment which also looked at the planned expansion of Lisbon’s existing Humberto Delgado Airport would have answered these, they argue.
In the opinion of the associations, the Environmental Impact Study of the new airport “has serious weaknesses” because it does not properly assess the project’s environmental impact and the compensation and mitigation measures it foresees are inadequate. They believe that impacts on nature, public health and quality of life of locals are not properly taken into account, nor the issue of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, which the government is pledged to reduce.
“The failings in the information presented, prompts the associations to question how the safety of air operations itself is being assessed, given the risk posed [to] species that have not been properly studied,” the statement reads. “This is the case, for example, of the 60,000 black tailed godwits, or the 50,000 black ibis that winter ... on site, and the latter have been increasing every winter and are practically ignored by the study.”
It alleges that the government has failed to protect the species and habitats of what is the country’s most important wetland, classified as a Natural Reserve and part of the Natura 2000 network of sites as “one of the most important in the European Union.”
Given all this, the associations argue, the value of the proposed financial compensation has no basis in the assessment of what will be lost, nor any basis where the effectiveness of solving a real problem is concerned.
“Since the Government did not give importance to these and other serious concerns raised by numerous entities during the public consultation process, environmental organisations see no alternative other than to place them at the consideration of the judicial system and the European authorities,” the statement concludes.