The controversial hotel that is being built 100 meters from Memoria beach, in Perafita, Matosinhos, has no license. As advances, this Tuesday, the Newspaper, the Minister of the Environment signed this Monday the order stating that the work should be “stopped immediately and the original conditions of the land imposed”. Inspection concluded that the project was born in lands of the National Ecological Reserve.
According to information provided by the executive, the contract in question – Memória Talasso Hotel Apartamentos – is a four-star hotel on the beach line, in Perafita, and which provides for 94 accommodation units (in studio types, T1 and T2) with a view beach, restaurant, bars, swimming pool, spa, thalassotherapy and parking. The project received the green light from all the competent entities and was even awarded the title of "tourist utility" by the State Secretariat of Tourism, which conferred tax benefits on the promoter, but when it was made public, several residents spoke out against it.
According to the JN, licensing is null and it is considered that “the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) and the Câmara de Matosinhos should have acted with greater caution in this process”. Excavations of the land already carried out on the shore of the sea, which “are part of the practice of a very serious offense”, are one of the violations pointed out.
The undertaking in question is located on a land that in the Municipal Master Plan (PDM), in a 1992 version, was planned as an area for tourism, for the construction of a hotel. Luísa Salgueiro, mayor of Matosinhos, revealed that in November 1996 the Council of Ministers approved the delimitation of the National Ecological Reserve (REN), which provided for exceptions in some areas of the coastal zone. “When the REN letter was approved, it was already foreseen that tourism equipment would be exempted, as was the case”, he stressed in December 2019.
In 2004, the promoter submitted a Request for Prior Information (PIP) to build the hotel in that location, but this was rejected. The same promoter submitted the application for a license in September 2016, and an opinion was requested from the Institute for Nature and Forestry Conservation, which did not comment on the understanding that it is not a protected area, an opinion from the APA, which it was favorable, as well as to the Northern Regional Development and Coordination Commission (CCDR-N), which at the time gave an unfavorable opinion for non-compliance with the REN exclusion limit.
Later, in January 2017, the promoter corrects this request and makes it confine the area destined to tourist equipment, deserving the favorable opinion of CCDR-N, but also of APA and Turismo de Portugal. That same year, the construction license was also approved, since it met all the urban conditions set out in the PDM.
It turns out that on August 21, 2019 a new version of the PDM comes into effect. “In this new version, that Ecological Reserve strip does not provide for any construction. The chamber understands that it is not a positive thing to build any equipment in that protection area, including tourism, "said the leader of the municipality, considering that" as of this version, any equipment in that range would no longer be possible ".
However, the project was approved during the previous version of the PDM, so “it has acquired rights for the construction that are not affected by the entry into force of the new version”. For Luísa Salgueiro, “if the project had been appreciated after August, it would obviously have failed”, highlighting the fact that the POOC continues to “not be incompatible with the construction”. "The only thing incompatible with the construction is our PDM (current), but this does not drop the rights acquired previously". Thus, the promoter has "total right to build", being "unassailable" from the legal point of view, leaving now the autarchy "to verify compliance with all construction rules".
In October, dozens of people, mostly residents, demonstrated against the construction of the hotel and demanded that an alternative location be found, at a time when the work had already stopped at the initiative of the promoter because he was negotiating the relocation of the enterprise for environmental reasons. That same month, the project was the subject of a complaint by the Attorney General's Office.
On December 16, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action ordered an investigation into the hotel's licensing process.
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