“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them” Bill Vaughn
We were saddened to hear of the latest plans agreed by the Silves Municipality to develop a beautiful and unspoilt area of the Algarve. Fans of our ‘Portugal 365’ photography project may well recall our recent lovely photos of the bird sanctuary and lagoon at Salgados – with wonderful feeding flamingos and rare birds all enjoying a beautiful and sunny spot hidden from tourists:
The plans include creating another tourist resort – and another golf course – in an area already saturated with similar projects and buildings. The Plans are believed to include the construction of three more luxury hotels, five holiday villages, shopping complexes and another 18 hole golf course.
That wouldn’t be such a bad thing in this economic climate you might think – it will bring jobs and more tourism to the area? However the reality is that the area surrounding this lagoon is already full of hotel and apartment complexes – and many of them are empty and/or unfinished!
The Algarve Daily News have been campaigning against this for some time, their recent online article Silves Go Ahead for Yet Another Resort outlines the issues in detail and is a worthy read:
“How the destruction, partial or total, of a well known wildlife zone and the impact on the adjacent bird sanctuary at Salgados, a name that was missing from today’s announcement from Silves Câmara, can preserve Silves’ glorious natural legacy remains to be seen”
The Algarve Resident in a recent article ‘Controversial project gets green light’ has also reported on this issue:
“Local residents have expressed their indignation and astonishment that such a project has been approved. The Salgados lagoon is a treasured wetland area where aquatic birds like Kinsgfishers, Great Kormorants and even flamingos are just a few of the species to be found.
But more importantly, the Salgados area has already been developed to the extent where thousands of holiday units lay empty for the majority of the year and developers have run into serious financial difficulties”
When we visited the lagoon recently we were stunned at how beautiful – and peaceful – it was – and how many different birds were all feeding there. We sat on a viewing platform for about two hours, taking photographs and enjoying the view. We also remarked at the time at how fabulous it was to have something like this on our doorstep, and how lovely it was that it had not been over-developed like so much of the ‘Golden Triangle’ has been.
The lagoon has already been in the news recently for different reasons – the threat of losing its water supply was only averted when the local water board agreed to pump all of the water from a local treatment station into the lagoon – as its water supply was being rapidly drained to supply the local golf courses.
The approach to the lagoon is already littered with unfinished – and unoccupied – hotel and apartment buildings, with overgrown palm trees, and roads that lead nowhere. The Algarve Resident article also expressed concern that the finances for the project are not even fully in place:
“The developers claim that finance is in place for the building of the first hotel, golf course and basic infrastructure. But this represents just a small proportion of the overall project incorporating over 5000 tourist beds. Fears abound amongst the local community that further investment from banks or other developers will be difficult to secure and Praia Grande may end up as nothing more than a building site and an eyesore for many years to come”
Even more worrying is the current financial position of the Developer’s Holding Company, as reported by the Algarve Daily News:
“On the same day that the Praia Grande developemnt was announced in Silves, the president of the holding company Grupo Galilei was appearing in a four hour grilling in a parliamentary committee hearing. He said that the future of the group “is difficult” and that it may have to dismiss 1,500 employees if they have to pay a fine imposed by the Bank of Portugal for its involvement in the BPN banking scandal”
Algarve Daily News article 22/06/2012 Used with thanks
So – what one thing can you do to help fight this?
Huge thanks must go to someone called Frank McClintock who has set up an online petition which you can sign:
Save Salgados, a unique internationally recognized birding sanctuary, from being destroyed!!
Please take a minute to click the link below and sign the petition – and then please share it with anyone else you know who would also be willing to help to block these plans:
The petition requires 40,000 signatures for this matter to be raised in Parliament.
And in the meantime – we hope that you enjoy our photographs of the lagoon and its wild birds – the question is – how much longer we will be able to enjoy such a beautiful place?
With thanks to the Algarve Resident newspaper for their reporting of this – and thank you to Frank for setting up the online petition.
And please note that – as with all our images and text – all images contained in this website are copyright © Alyson and David Sheldrake, A3Art unless otherwise attributed. All rights are reserved. Content and images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected or used in any way without express written permission.