Calls for second airport at Alverca
Controversy over plans to turn Montijo’s air base into Lisbon’s second airport has reached new heights following the second project has received from the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA).
People, Animals and Nature Party (PAN) is calling for the resignation of the agency’s president, while a group of specialists have once again defended that building a second airport for Lisbon in Alverca would be “two times cheaper” and make much more sense for several reasons.
Portugal’s government insists that Montijo is the only option and that the country has “no time or money” to investigate alternatives.
Montijo Airport naysayers cite the threat of increased noise pollution for thousands of local residents in the flight paths, increased risks to health, the threat of bird-strike due to nearby wetlands and Montijo’s low-lying situation close to the Tagus river.
Nonetheless, the Montijo project was given the green light’ from the APA on January 21, much to the dismay of the throngs of dissident voices which have incessantly opposed the plan.
The green light comes with a list of demands, however, namely a €48 million compensation package.
The package includes the payment of between €15 million and €20 million to reduce the impact of the noise, €10 million for two new Transtejo boats and €7.2 million for the creation of a financial mechanism for the protection and conservation of the birds”.
The latest addition is a €4.5 levy to be charged on every arriving and departing flight.
This measure will replace the initial demand that forced national airport authority ANA to pay €200,000 every year as compensation for the airport’s controversial construction.
Now it will be airlines footing the bill for this new protection plan.
PAN is outraged that the government is pressing ahead with the project and has called for the resignation of APA president Nuno Lacasta and the rest of the agency’s administration board.
“The APA’s decision confirms what PAN has been saying for a long time: that there isn’t a truly independent entity in Portugal that is able to protect the country’s environmental values,” said a statement released by the party.
Meanwhile, a group of specialists from several different sectors including environmental, planning, economy and accessibility published an opinion article in Sol newspaper on Saturday explaining why they believe Alverca would be a “much better and cheaper” option.
Their plan involves building the airport on the island of Mouchão da Póvoa, where there would be enough room to build four landing strips instead of just one in Montijo.
In practical terms, this would mean that there would be a capacity for up to 90 more than in Montijo) and 70 million passengers per year (50 million in Montijo).
They also view Alverca as a “definite solution” and say that there would be three times more room (1,600 hectares) to expand the airport if necessary than in Montijo (600 ha).
The plan would be to have Lisbon’s Portela Airport become more of a “city airport” while Alverca would become the main hub for “medium and long-distance flights.