Largest solar park in Europe gets red card from Portugal’s justice department

 In Licences, News, Solar energy, Solar Parks

Portugal’s Public Ministry has revoked a licence awarded by the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA) for the construction of the largest solar park in Europe in the country’s Alentejo region.

The Fernando Pessoa Solar Park from Iberdrola – the largest in Europe, and the 5th largest in the world — is part of €3Bn worth of investments in wind and solar energy projects slated for Portugal for the next few years.
It sates that the licence for the project in the district of Santiago do Cacém “bypassed a large number of territorial management instruments and legal regimes to protect natural resources”.
The Spanish company involved, Iberdrola, says that it has “strictly followed all processes” in an investment worth €800 million.
The total area of the solar park is around 1,000 hectares, which Iberdrola has been developing with Prosolia, and will mean the felling of 1.5 million trees, mostly eucalyptus, having received a licence from the APA at the end of January, 2023.
But for the Public Ministry’s Central Department of State Litigation and Collective and Diffused Interests the case that unfolded at the end of January at the Beja Fiscal and Administrative Court ruled that not all the procedures had been complied with according to newspaper Público.
The project had been contested by a local residents’ association, alleging to environmental pressure group ProtectAlentejo (ProtegeAlentejo) that the environmental impact statement had been approved despite negative export reports from various entities such as the Institute of Nature Conservation and Forests, the National Energy and Geology Laboratory, and even the actual director of the agency’s environmental impact evaluation department.
According to the association, the energy that was planned to be produced was to have supplied the Start Campus – the data centre at the centre of ‘Operation Influencer’ that led to the resignation of the ex-prime minister, António Costa – but Iberdrola has insisted that all the processes defined for the project’s development had strictly complied with all the processes defined for development of the project.
Located close to Sines, the infrastructure will have an installed capacity of 1,200 MW and should be up and running by 2025, creating 2,500 jobs, most for locals if and when it gets the definite go-ahead.