Saturday, 23 June 2012

Lagoa dos Salgados

Under the headline Silves sells out to developers, the Algarve Daily News reports that a contract for a massive development on the Salgados bird sanctuary to the east of Armaçao de Pêra was signed yesterday in Silves. An investment of more than €232 million will create jobs in the area, and boost the income of Silves Câmara (the local authority) by €35 million a year. The project plans include three hotels (two five-star, one four-star), five holiday villages, shops and an 18-hole golf course. According to the developer, the project is aimed at upper class tourists and not passengers flying on low cost airlines.

Lagoa dos Salgados, June 2012 - not much water!

Work will start in 2013 and by 2015, if everything goes as planned, the first tourists can be catered for with completion of the infrastructure and the first hotel. The development will be phased, as the promoters do not yet have the funds to complete the project, but in the course of time they hope to attract foreign investors. In fact they are confident that the money will be available "in two or three years, when this crisis is over." The first of the two five-star hotels is planned to be completed in mid 2017, the second in late 2018 and the four-star hotel is scheduled for completion in mid 2023.

The report goes on to say that “Eco pressure groups have had more than four years in which to fight for this unique bird sanctuary yet have achieved zero results despite international acknowledgement that the area is of vital importance to wildlife.” But is this really true? We have referred previously here to the long-running battle to save Lagoa dos Salgados and on the face of it that battle has been lost. However, there are those here who even now are attempting to put a positive slant on this development from the point of view of birds and wildlife, as though this further expanse of concrete, tarmac and close-cropped grass was going to bring some sort of environmental benefit.

Lagoa dos Salgados, September 2007

We are told that there is an agreement with the developer for a ‘buffer zone’ that will safeguard the lagoon, that there will be funding available for habitat improvement and site management, that there will be hides, screens and boardwalks and even a visitor centre. Maybe there will and we really hope so, but we’re not going to hold our breath!

The future visitor centre, September 2009

We already have at least 40 golf courses here in the Algarve with serious competition in that market now coming from Turkey and elsewhere. The average occupancy rate in the Algarve’s hotels this May was 55.2%, the second worst May in the past 16 years, according to the Association of Hotels and Resorts in the Algarve. Surely the financial climate will have to improve dramatically before any right thinking person (or bank) will want to put money into a project that will add further to this over-supply.

 Lagoa dos Salgados, June 2007

Let’s hope that the first phase (general infrastructure, access roads, etc) doesn’t result in the whole area being trashed. After all, it could also be the last phase with the result being no hotels, no jobs and no birds!


livenow said...

It is so sad to see what has happened to this beautiful Algarve over these past many years. What about the abandoned CS? What a mess of palm trees! Seems to me who ever the person is approving the rape of this delicate territory and spectacular landscape may also be benefiting from payoffs- as usual.

Peter and June said...

Dead and dying palm trees are indeed a sad sight. There's no stopping the red palm weevil it seems.
As for 'payoffs', well it's easy to see how you might come to that conclusion but we couldn't possibly comment!

lagunestation said...

Tank´s for your interest in the conservation of our fantastic country because the Algarve people are allways sleeping about that and let destroy everything because money I´m portuguese but it´s a shame

Obrigado pelo vosso interesse na conservação do nosso fantástico pais, já que a maioria dos algarvios estão sempre a dormir sobre isto, e deixam destruir tudo por causa do dinheiro

Peter and June said...

lagunestation - there are many people from Northern Europe who recognise the importance of Lagoa dos Salgados. One of them has now started an on-line petition at