News Environment: Commission issues stern warnings to Portugal and Spain over nature protection shortcomings

The European Commission is sending letters of formal notice to Portugal and Spain for failing to take sufficient measures to protect nature. The Portuguese case concerns authorisations for planned tourist complexes in protected areas in Grândola and Alcácer do Sal, south of Lisbon. The Spanish case concerns a failure to comply with a ruling by the European Court of Justice requiring Spain to designate sufficient protected areas for the conservation and protection of wild birds in a number of regions around the country.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Europe depends on its biodiversity for innumerable ecological services, from water and air purification to forestry resources. That biodiversity is under threat, and it is vital that we protect it. Spain and Portugal must comply with Europe's nature legislation and maintain the integrity of the Natura 2000 network. This is critical if the EU is to meet its target of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010."

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Source EU Press Office
Keywords Nature Protection, Natura 2000

First written warning for Portugal

A first written warning has been sent to Portugal for separate instances in which the environmental impact assessments that it has carried out for infrastructure projects have been seriously flawed.

The case concerns fast-tracked authorisations for tourist developments – Costa Terra, Herdade do Pinheirinho and Herdade de Comporta – in the SCI 'Comporta/Galé', in the region of Grândola and Alcácer do Sal, south of Lisbon. The developments cover almost 1200 hectares, including six golf courses, 21 villages of apartments, 660 tourist villas and 21 hotels, making a total of more than 16 000 beds. The Commission has concluded that while impact assessments were carried out for the developments, the assessments were not appropriate since they failed to take account of negative impacts on priority habitats and species in the SCI, they did not examine the cumulative impacts of the different projects or cumulative impacts with other projects planned for the same site, and they did not adequately analyse alternative solutions.