domingo, 23 de março de 2014

Quinta do Lorde Saga

The storm over middle eastern investors pulling out of the mega-investment, Quinta do Lorde, is abating.

The Quinta do Lorde resort is a huge resort built in a Natura 2000 nature reserve, according to legislation adopted by EU governments in 1992 to protect the most seriously threatened habitats.

The land was originally site of a house built by Lord Shrewsbury, but which he never got to inhabit. After years of disinterest, and with very limited development possibilities it was bought by Ricardo Sousa, for next to nothing. But, as usual, once it belonged to the 'right' people all restrictions melted; the sky was the limit.

However, as usual, the plans were contested by environmental NGOs and activists. In 2008, Gil Canha, (now recently elected city councilor to Funchal), presented a denunciation to the Public Prosecutor's Office. A year later, when nothing had happened he put in an injunction against the development. The judge, despite admitting there were indications of illegality, determined not to defer the injunction because of the economic consequences the promoters of the project would suffer. The main case was duly filed but only recently registered.

In the meantime, the project had run into financial difficulties and ground to a halt several times. The banks sought for new investors and eventually found a consortium of middle eastern investors who duly began to pour in much needed money. However, they were apparently never informed of the pending court case and of its consequences - in Spain the  Marina Isla de Valdecañas resort, also built in a Rede Natura 2000 reserve was ordered demolished by the Supreme Court. 

Contacted by the consortium, Gil Canha showed willingness to drop the case (Portuguese Justice is no match for Spanish justice and the effects of demolishing the project could not undo the damage) in return for the fulfillment of some environmental demands, such as public access tot the beachfront  - but nothing doing until the Sousas stopped persecuting him and others (including myself) through court cases. 

The Sousas then orchestrated several workers demonstrations in front of Funchal City Hall calling for Canha to step down for causing the loss of their jobs. Their actions failed to carry public opinion. 

The Sousa Group are incidentally shareholders of the company contracted by the previous executive of Funchal City to draw up its new city plan and regulations!

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