The Platform Save the Tua has taken a Special Administrative Action against the Portuguese Environment Agency for the approval of a very high-voltage power line proposed by EDP, the Portuguese Electric Company, connecting the Foz Tua dam with the national grid.
The Administrative Court of Lisbon admitted the most recent initiative led by the Platform Save the Tua which intends to reverse the Environmental Impact Statement which approves a very high-voltage power line in the core of the Alto Douro Wine Region.
The decision was taken in September by the Portuguese Environment Agency and gave formal assent conditioned to the alignment “2SM” having the propose to connect the Foz Tua dam with Armamar, going through an extension of about 40 km, crossing the river Douro at Valeira.
If it goes ahead, the Douro valley will be wretched open by deforested safety corridors to place metallic towers reaching up to 68m high, almost as the Clerigos Tower in Oporto, or as the deck of the 25th of April Bridge, which connects Almada to Lisbon.
In the opinion of the Platform Save the Tua, the decision must be reversed or declared void because “the damages caused are brutally disproportionate in regard with the Environmental Law” and because “the core of the fundamental rights to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment is violated”, as referred to in the wording of the Special Administrative Action.
It is stated as well that “the solution adopted will cut through areas of high sensitivity for birds, in flagrant violation of the EIS concerning the Foz Tua Hydroelectric Dam” and “ the alignment proposed for the high-power lines cuts visibly through the core of the Alto Douro Wine Region in flagrant violation of the Unesco requirements.
The body that oversees the preservation of the World Property remains, nonetheless, indifferent to this situation and has still not respond to the complaint sent last November by the Platform Save the Tua about the infringements committed by EDP and by the Portuguese State concerning the Foz Tua Hydroelectric Dam.
The Ministry of the Environment seems also willing to turn a deaf hear as João Joanaz de Melo, technical coordinator of the Platform, argues: “The behaviour of the Ministry reflects politic cowardliness: all the technical baselines are at their disposal to terminate the concession contract of the Foz Tua dam for non-compliance”. In July, the Portuguese Inspection-Office of the Environment was sent by the minister to investigate whether the obligations under the Environmental Impact Statement were met and announced that the result would be known within 30 days. We are still waiting for the result to come to public.
Also the hierarchical appeal, taken two months ago before the minister of Environment and Energy Jorge Moreira da Silva, by the Platform Save the Tua, in which it is argued that the decision issued from the EIS concerning the very high-voltage lines is illegal, is still kept unanswered, albeit the legal deadline to respond expired yesterday.
“It seems there is an institutional blockage to our appeals. Towards this situation we can but hope that the Law is followed, that is why we have taken a Special Administrative Action”, as Joanaz de Melo explains.
In this latest legal action, the Platform Save the Tua argues that there are laws, international conventions and guidelines that are being violated as well as the Right to a Save Environment embodied in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.
Legal arguments from Gomes Canotilho, Vital Moreira (constitutional experts), Diogo Freitas do Amaral (Administrative Law expert), Vasco Pereira da Silva e Luís Filipe Colaço Antunes (Environmental Administrative Law experts) are used to refer to the Court to reverse or declare void the EIS concerning the very high-voltage power line.
The mission of Platform Save the Tua is to protect the Tua Valley by raising awareness about the inconsistencies of the Foz Tua dam, which is being constructed in one of the most beautiful rivers in Portugal, with the values abided by Unesco World Heritage nomination of the Alto Douro Wine Region. We demand for this construction to stop immediately before a natural heritage spot of a high ecological, social and economic value and part of our legacy and Portuguese identity and culture suffers irreversible damages.