ANA wants tacit approval for extension of Montijo airport’s environmental impact statement

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ANA Aeroportos has asked the Portuguese Environment Agency to recognize the tacit acceptance of the request to extend the Environmental Impact Statement (DIA) for Montijo airport and to grant this extension for an equal period of four years.

According to a letter from ANA Aeroportos to which the Lusa news agency had access today, in reaction to the Portuguese Environment Agency’s (APA) proposed decision not to renew the Montijo airport’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the company has asked the environment agency to recognize the tacit acceptance of the request to extend the EIS, as of January 18, 2024.

The request, dated February 12, is made “due to the expiry of the sixty working day period from the date of receipt of the request by the AAIA [Environmental Impact Assessment Authority] on October 19, 2023”.

ANA Aeroportos also asked for the “current maintenance of the circumstances existing at the time the EIS was issued, pointing out that there are “no changes to the IGTs [Territorial Management Instruments] applicable to the Protejo, which determine the alteration of the existing conditions considered in the EIA [Environmental Impact Assessment] procedures”.

It also pointed out that there was “no solid basis to support a change, de facto or de jure, to what had already been described in the EIS as constituting ‘negative, significant, moderate/high magnitude, permanent and irreversible impacts on the estuary’s avifauna’ and assuming for certain that these would result from the ‘disturbance caused by the movement of aircraft and which have the consequence of reducing the areas of refuge, feeding and nesting of the water birds that frequent it'”.

The airport manager also pointed out that there were “no changes to the IGTs, specifically in terms of land use and the noise environment applicable to the Project, which would alter the existing conditions considered in the APA procedure” and that there were “no changes, in fact or in law, in terms of human health”.

ANA Aeroportos also requested that the validity of the EIS be extended for an equal period of four years, according to the document addressed to the APA and signed by lawyers André Gaspar Martins and Assunção Cristas, former Minister of Agriculture, Sea, Environment and Spatial Planning between 2011 and 2013.

The decision not to renew the DIA was announced on January 30 by television station SIC, following an unfavorable opinion from the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF).

The ICNF clarified on the same day that it had given an unfavorable opinion based on new studies on the region’s birdlife.

“In issuing this opinion, the ICNF took into account recently published studies and the results of scientific work on the avifauna of this area,” the entity said in a statement, in which it gave the example of a study published by the University of Cambridge, UK, which concluded that a new airport in Montijo could lead to a loss of up to 30% of the conservation value of the Tagus estuary in terms of feeding wintering birds.

The institute recalled that the EIS issued on January 21, 2020 was due to expire and that having requested its extension, the ICNF was asked to give its opinion by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), which then issued an unfavorable opinion, based on new data, on the extension of the validity period.

An unfavorable opinion “because it considers there to be an objective change of circumstances and an unequivocal evolution of knowledge and the environmental framework,” the statement said.

The ICNF therefore considers it necessary to “carry out a new EIA process that takes into account all the technical and scientific information that is now known, as well as any new information that may arise, in order to reach a sustained and realistic decision”.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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