"When we have on one side of the scale the profit that results from a capitalist attitude and behaviour by companies and on the other side the harmony between economic development, job promotion and respect for environmental and public health, it is difficult we will be able to [solve the problem] if we do not have the political will on the part of those who have executive action, which is the Government", the deputy of the PCP for Beja, João Dias told the Lusa agency on 26 May.

According to the deputy, "the Government is the best placed to regulate the activity of these companies" and, in view of a resolution with recommendations from the Assembly of the Republic (AR) to resolve the problem and the "dissatisfaction" of the populations, "if it had intention and want it would have already minimally legislated in order to create some regulation" in relation to environmental impacts.

"But the Government knows that this interferes with the agricultural model installed in Baixo Alentejo, very much based on the intensive and super intensive cultures of the olive grove, also of other cultures, but mainly of the olive grove", and, therefore, "there is no will here [politics] and the lack of political will is related to what is moving and interfering with the economic interests of these large companies and farms", said the deputy.

João Dias told Lusa that the PCP Parliamentary Group asked the chairman of the Environment, Energy and Spatial Planning Commission of the AR, the deputy of BE José Maria Cardoso, to hear four entities on the environmental and public health problem related to the operation of three olive pomace processing plants in Alentejo.

These are the AZPO factories, near the village of Fortes, and Casa Alta - Sociedade Transformadora de Bagaços, in the Agroindustrial Park of Penique, near the village of Odivelas, in the municipality of Ferreira do Alentejo, and UCASUL - Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of the Sul, in the municipality of Alvito, in the district of Beja.

The General Inspection of Agriculture, Sea, Environment and Spatial Planning, the Alentejo Regional Coordination and Development Commission, the Portuguese Environment Agency and the Environmental Association Amigos das Fortes are the entities that the PCP wants to be heard in the AR.

According to João Dias, until today (26 May), "nothing has been accomplished" of the resolution that the AR approved in 2018 and which recommends to the Government urgent measures to end the problem related to the operation of the three factories.

The resolution, which resulted from five draft resolutions submitted by BE, PSD, PCP, CDS-PP and PEV, was unanimously approved in 2018, but, until today, "nothing has been achieved, because this implies who owns the factories and legislation that must be adjusted and the Government has not had this political will", he stressed.

With the resolution and "maintaining or even intensifying" the problems and complaints of the population of Fortes, "there is clearly a need to better understand the situation" and that is why the PCP asked for the hearing of the four entities to provide clarifications on school subjects.