Luisa Schmidt, Sociologist and member of the National Council for Environment and Sustainable Development*
That is why, at a minimum, the information and the meaning of this business should be shared with such a territorial scope and not just about creditors and real estate developers. It is an environmentally interesting property that is in the heart of one of the already rare coastal areas that, in the country and in Europe, remain organized and with low density of occupation. So valuable that it is vacation spot and secondary residences of some of the richest and most powerful individuals on the planet.
The problem is that it is also a central part of a very rich environment and landscape that unfolds territorially across a vast area involving two counties – Alcácer do Sal and Grândola; a significant part of the Lower Sado and its marshes; an extensive seafront and important agricultural and forestry areas with rice, pine and montado. To think of the part that is put up for sale as a spare part disconnected from all this environmental structure that surrounds it, serves only to place in strictly commercial terms a transaction that has profound implications in the planning of the territory, in the environmental values and, of course, in a reality that exists – the country.
Comporta: the important thing is to know who wants to do what in that part of our country
If things got to this point it was not just for the bankruptcy of BES. It was also due to the incapacity that the State has shown up to this moment to affirm with clarity and with an adequate level of exigency the public interest of the values that are present there. Worse. CCDR Alentejo has withdrawn from the National Ecological Reserve (REN) many of the lands that are now building lots, a process that is being investigated by the Public Ministry and the Judiciary Police. It is therefore unacceptable that until now the Ministry of the Environment and the State Secretariat for Spatial Planning have not said a single word about this sale and that the ICNF has not yet drawn up the management plan for the Comporta-Galé site, a basic document that will define the indisputable values that can not be alienated.
The neuralgic point of the sale of this part of Comporta is precisely in the public dimension of the environmental and landscape values that it integrates. The territory can not be sold as if it sells a package of nuts, because it is not detachable neither of the elements to which it articulates nor of the public values that the State has the duty to caution and to promote.
It does not therefore seem possible to take any decision without considering the environmental values and the way in which each proposal foresees them. It is on the basis of this consideration that the State – and not just the sellers – has to weigh the three candidates who present themselves.
Now, of the three proposals mentioned, only one has so far publicized the project and the meaning of what it wants to do there. It became known that it proposes to strongly promote public environmental values, develop a cultural project and use only 15% of the construction area made possible by the law. As for the other two, the executioner. From what little they let know only one realizes that it is luxury real estate operations showy and full stop.
After so many sales cases in which the State has ignored the country it serves, it is hoped that this time some lesson may have been learned and it will be realized that this territory is not a commodity like any other and that there is a minimum of respect for values of the environment, citizenship and country that can not be omitted. Do not just ask who gives more; it is mainly knowing who wants to do what in that part of our country.
*The author writes according to the old spelling.
Article published in the paper edition of the Expresso on August 25, 2018