LUSA 07/10/2024

Lusa - Business News - Portugal: Environmentalists file injunction against Algarve desalination plant

Faro, Portugal, July 9, 2024 (Lusa) - A platform that brings together environmentalist associations has filed a lawsuit with the Public Prosecutor's Office, asking for the invalidity of the Environmental Impact Statement in favour of the construction of a desalination plant in the Algarve, it announced on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Sustainable Water Platform (PAS) claims that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) issued on April 3 by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) regarding the Preliminary Study for the Algarve Seawater Desalination Plant Project (EDAM) "does not meet the requirements that allow it to be classified as an EIS and violates national and European laws".

According to the "complaint" filed with the magistrate of the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Judicial Court of the District of Faro, it is requested that the institution "activate the necessary legal means with a view to declaring the EIS issued invalid, because of the annulments it suffers from, but above all due to the nullities, definitively removing this administrative act from the legal order".

At the beginning of April, PAS had already challenged the APA's issuance of a favourable EIS conditional on the construction of the seawater desalination plant.

This platform is a movement created in 2020, which brings together A Rocha Portugal, Água é Vida, AlBio - Associação Agroecológica do Algarve, Almargem - Associação de Defesa do Património Cultural e Ambiental do Algarve, CIVIS - Associação para o Aprofundamento da Cidadania, Ecotopia Associação Ambiental e de Desenvolvimento Sustentável, FALA - Fórum do Ambiente do Litoral Alentejano, Faro 1540 - Associação de Defesa e Promoção do Património Ambiental e Cultural de Faro, Glocal Faro, LPN - Liga para a Proteção da Natureza, Probaal - Associação para o Barrocal Algarvio, Quercus - Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza and REGAR.

Among other arguments, the environmentalists once again stress that their position is "objectively based" on the fact that numerous elements of the project have not been presented and analysed, which they consider to be "essential information of central importance." They conclude that "several impacts of significant value have not been assessed."

On April 3, the APA issued a favourable EIS for the seawater desalination plant project to be installed in Albufeira, in the district of Faro. However, it was subject to compliance with several conditions.

According to the APA, although the impacts are not considered to be significant, the decision included "a set of requirements aimed at safeguarding these possible impacts, as well as the development of any additional minimisation measures".

According to the APA, given that the environmental impact assessment procedure took place at the preliminary study stage, "a second stage of assessment will take place at the execution project stage, with a view to verifying the execution project's environmental compliance with the EIS" issued.

The construction of a desalination plant in the municipality of Albufeira, whose base value is €90 million, is one of the measures to respond to the drought affecting the southern region of Portugal. The equipment is expected to have an initial capacity to convert seawater into drinking water of 16 cubic hectometres.

According to Águas do Algarve, the company responsible for the region's high water supply, which manages infrastructures such as dams and wastewater treatment plants, the work is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2026.