Edition 1433
22 July 2017
Edition: 1433

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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Coastal Controversy

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 13-07-2017 13:34:00 · 0 Comments

Portugal’s coastline could see major changes after the government approved six new land-use programmes that form part of a multi-million euro coastal plan to modify the country’s shoreline from North to South, to protect it from overuse and erosion.

Coastal Controversy

Controversially, according to an indepth report by publication Notícias Magazine, this could entail a reduction in the size of businesses operating along the shores as well as a reduction in the overall number of businesses.
One such example of the new POCs (Programme for Coastal Planning) is the programme covering the stretch of shore from Alcobaça to Cabo Espichel, which includes Costa da Caparica (Almada), one of Lisbon’s most popular beach destinations.
This particular POC, the magazine reports, foresees a reduction in the size of beach bars and restaurants on that stretch, as well as reorganising parking and devising measures to try and curb the number of people flocking to the region’s beaches, which attract some six million people every summer.
The document, which was up for public consultation until 30 May and is expected to be approved before the end of the year, is estimated to come with a price tag of €200 million.
It “foresees a drastic reduction to the area for beach bars and parking lots between Cova do Vapor and Fonte da Telha”, the report claimed.
Portugal’s State Secretary for the Environment, Célia Ramos, said that, in her opinion, to protect the coastline there are spots where the sheer volume of people needs to be reduced.
“We are thinking of Caparica and some areas of the Algarve, such as Monte Gordo, where it will be necessary to make significant interventions”, she said, explaining: “What POCs do is outline a detailed plan for bathing areas.
“Management is unpopular, especially in areas where there are large influxes. So it is increasingly important to find alternatives in other areas of beach recreation that are not only on the coast. We have a growing number of inland beaches”, she stressed as an example.
According to Notícias Magazine, the government currently has six POCs on the table, which aim to “regulate, monitor, protect and structure the entire Portuguese coastline, from Caminha to Vila Real de Santo António.”
“We are dealing with a coast where gullies and cliffs are exposed to the action of a rough sea and crumble and disintegrate. The entire coastline is at risk, with exception of the areas that are already adequately protected”, State Secretary Ramos said.
In comments to the publication, Paulo do Carmo, from national environmental watchdog, Quercus, elaborated: “Forty percent of the Portuguese coast is at risk of erosion, and is subject to the effects of climate change, rising sea levels and thawing. There is less sediment brought in by rivers, because of dams, and less sand on beaches.”
Portugal’s environment agency, the APA, has said the answer lies in “preserving dunes and other existing natural barriers, strengthening artificial defence structures and compensating for the reduction of the volume of sand.”
In addition, the APA stressed, it is also necessary to stop or demolish buildings too close to the sea.
The government has already approved a POC covering the coastline between Ovar and Marinha Grande.
In that area it blocked the construction of a hotel and a campsite planned for spots deemed to be at risk.
But, the magazine reports, while local businesses in Caparica have applauded investment to protect the coast, they question the programme itself.
João Carreira, President of the Costa da Caparica Concessionaires Association, argued: “If the POC goes forward as planned, there are businesses that will no longer be viable”, giving the renowned Borda d’Àgua restaurant, which he owns, as an example.
Borda d’Àgua currently has 400 square metres of covered area and an esplanade of 1,600 square metres; should the new POC come into force, those measurements would have to be massively shaved down to 200 square metres and 150 square metres respectively, which João Carreira says is not enough to cater for the volume of his clientele.
Bearing in mind that 80 percent of Portugal’s population lives on the coast, and 85 percent of the Gross Domestic Product is generated near the sea, protection of the shoreline is put into perspective.
Furthermore, the European Environment Agency found that Portugal is the European country that most built within one kilometre of the coastline between 1995 and 2005.
Broaching the topic of coastal construction, the magazine reports that, even though many properties have been built illegally and are at the mercy of Mother Nature, proprietors rarely understand the need to demolish them; “Today, what is at stake - beyond legalities - is a matter of exposure to risk. We must choose one of the two: protect or withdraw. “Withdrawal - especially in situations of illegality - has to happen. We are not going to build barriers to protect an illegally-built hotel or settlement”, the State Secretary concluded.

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Edition 1433
22 July 2017
Edition: 1433

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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