According to a report by Sul Informação, the court considered that the project obtained a favourable Declaration of Environmental Conformity (DECAPE) by tacit approval, because the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) did not respond in a timely manner to an evaluation request made by the promoter of the mega-project, Finalgarve, a company from the Millenium/BCP group, in September 2017.
In December of that year, CCDR Algarve even issued an unfavourable DECAPE, based on opinions requested from several entities, namely the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests, which denied the company's claim, but did so after the deadline had passed.
The process continued, and in 2018 there was a new request for a Declaration of Environmental Conformity from Finalgarve, which the CCDR Algarve also denied – as six NGOs demanded.
Justifying the decision was the fact that Lagoa dos Salgados is the habitat of Linaria algarviana, a species of plant that occurs in this humid area and that needs vast natural areas to survive.
In the first instance, the Administrative and Fiscal Court of Sintra (TAFS), to which Finalgarve appealed, accepted the CCDR's arguments that there could be no tacit approval, because Finalgarve not only did not contest the decision, in December 2017, but also carried out further explorations on the ground to find Linaria algarviana, which would indicate that he had accepted the arguments used by the CCDR when it gave an unfavourable opinion to this first request.
The company did not comply and appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, which, in the end, after analyzing the arguments of both parties, decided to “revoke the appealed sentence [of the TAFS] and partially judge the action, annulling the contested act and deeming it unfounded the condemnatory requests”.
While this legal battle was ongoing, the idea of creating the Lagoa dos Salgados Natural Reserve had a decisive development, with the launch of public discussion of the proposal to create this protected area.
However, right at that time, Millenium/BCP threatened that it would ask for compensation if the Natural Reserve progressed, believing that the court would agree and recognize the declaration of favorable environmental impact as valid.
In light of the most recent developments, this is just one of the scenarios that arise in the now uncertain future of Lagoa dos Salgados, which has not yet been classified as a Natural Reserve.
The Supreme Administrative ruled in favour of the promoter who wants to create a mega-enterprise in Lagoa dos Salgados