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Posted by portugalpress on October 23, 2018

Just as the government’s State Budget sets out ambitious transport plans - including a billion euro investment at Montijo airbase to create a much-needed overspill airport serving Lisbon - a shock report has revealed that everything has been thrown into doubt.

An investigation by SIC television aired last (Monday) night claims that the commission set up to ‘evaluate’ the environmental impact assessment (EIA) presented by airports authority ANA ruled back in July that expansion plans for Montijo were “confused, generic and full of deficiencies” - totally unprepared for public consultation.

It’s news that will delight conservationists - who have been battling to save the unique birding wetland around Montijo for years - and a development that Brussels has long been hinting at.

But where it leaves the urgent need to release pressure on Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado complex is unclear.

And how it will affect a major part of the government’s transport agenda is another question.

According to SIC’s report, the whole EIA process has had to begin again.

All entities concerned are intent on completing their reports “in record time”, hopefully by the end of this year.

At that point, the evaluation commission will have another crack at assessing the results.

Says SIC, none of the initial reports made for the first EIA will be admissible. ANA meantime is reported to have ‘accepted’ the need for a deeper study, “recognising the lack of quality” of the first, say reports.

The issues however are massively complex. They involve the feasibility of constructing major road links through the suburbs leading up to the airbase, and all the accompanying impacts these will bring local communities.

They also involve expert opinion on how a busy passenger terminal will affect what is universally regarded as an “environmental paradise on the banks of the Tejo river” - an important feeding ground for migratory birds.

This has been the conservationists’ sticking point over Montijo since the very beginning - and according to SIC, ANA airports authority had been hoping to wing it through the EIA by simply assessing the impacts of birds on the comings and goings of planes.

Says SIC, no research at all was included on what planes’ impacts would be on the birds - particularly when it came to mortality rates - or indeed on the biodiversity of the wetland region so close to the busy capital.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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