Frequently asked questions
What is in the article 66th of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic?
Environment and Quality of Life
1. Everyone has the right to a live environment that is human, healthy and ecologically balanced and the right to defend it.
2. To ensure the right to environment, in the framework of sustainable development, it is up to the State, by their own mechanisms and with the engagement and participation of citizens:
a) To prevent and control the pollution and its effects and negative forms of erosion;
b) To plan and promote town and country planning, aiming at a correct placing of activities, balanced socioeconomic development and the valorisation of the landscape;
c) To create and develop reserves and natural and recreation parks, as well as to classify and protect landscapes and places, so as to guarantee the conservation of nature and the preservation of cultural values and of historical or artistic importance;
d) To promote the rational exploration of natural resources, safeguarding its renewal capability and ecological stability, respecting the principle of solidarity among generations;
e) To promote, in collaboration with local governments, the environmental quality of settlements and urban life, namely in the architectonical plan and protection of historical areas;
f) To promote the integration of environmental objectives in the several sectorial policies;
g) To promote environmental education and the respect for environmental values;
h) To ensure that fiscal policy makes compatible development with environmental protection and quality of life.
Why should I defend the preservation of the green area of Quinta dos Ingleses?
Before anything else, environmental issues are nowadays unavoidable. Although the centennial trees from the Quinta is negligible at a global scale, their existence is vital at a local level: these trees are helping mitigate the negative effects of climate change, regulating the temperatures in the area, preserving a local microclimate and absorbing CO2 produced by the increasing number of vehicles. The disappearance of these trees would release into the atmosphere all the CO2 they have been capturing during their life. They are undoubtedly Cascais’ most valuable contributors to the climatic crisis that increasingly depend on local actions to be successfully tackled.
Besides, if the mega-development plan was to go ahead, this would imply a change in the impermeabilisation of the soil, with a consequent reduction in its capacity to retain sands and moisture but also changing the wind patterns threatening the survival of the sand and thus of Carcavelos Beach (the longest beach in Cascais and the largest remaining beach between Lisbon and Cascais) already under threat from climate changes (increase in sea storms and sea level).
Last but definitely not least, we also have to question what sense does it make to build so close to the coast when there are already buildings and people having to be reallocated in other regions of the Portuguese coast? And who would have to bear the costs of such mistakes?
What is the natural and historical legacy of the Quinta dos Ingleses?
The Quinta dos Ingleses, name by which the Quinta Nova de Santo António is popularly known, exists since the 16th century. From agricultural land, where the famous Carcavelos wine was produced, to leisure estate from the Morgados of Alagoa, it was later the third of the defensive lines of Northen Lisbon and departing point for the submarine telegraphic cables that connected England, India, Morocco and later the Azores and Brazil. It got its name when English staff from the submarine telegraphic cable companies arrived and disseminated throughout our country sports like football, golf and rugby, among others. It was already at the beginning of the 20th century that its main house was adapted into the international Saint Julian’s School. It is also of extreme historical relevance the Bronze Age findings.
Today, in the old farm, we can still find a centennial pine forest that is house to hundreds of different animal and vegetal species and a shelter to all this biodiversity. It is also a place where many visitors, as well as locals from Carcavelos, come to play sports or simply find peace among its trees.
More information: TheEasternTelegraphCableStation.pdf (bhsportugal.org)
But the Quinta dos Ingleses is neglected … what do you envision for the site?
There are as many ideas for the future of that space as there are members in this new association. Nevertheless, there is a common point to all of them: the present project approved by the Câmara Municipal de Cascais does not with the minimum requirements essential to face and mitigate the effects of this climatic crisis. This project could be designed with a more acute vision ad having the wellbeing of the population of Carcavelos in mind, dignifying the Quinta’s historical legacy, protecting its biodiversity and keeping a relevant buffer for the health of the beach and the safety of Carcavelos. Even the Assembly of the Republic recognises this by having approved, by a majority, the proposal to classify this area as Protected Landscape.
Thus, we don’t want the space to be as it is: abandoned, neglected and with limited conditions to be enjoyed. We have idealised solutions with a sustainable urban/social/economic framework and that bring to the population benefits that are not measured by GDP but by GNH (Gross National Happiness, UN’s proposed new indicator to measure the development of nations).
I always heard that the Quinta dos Ingleses was for construction… what is this PPERUCS anyway?
At the beginning of the 20th century the Saint Julian’s Association sold part of their lands and today the property of this area is shared between this Association and the construction company Alves Ribeiro. The attempts to build in this space have been lasting more than 60 years, as the first opposition to the destruction of the Quinta dos Ingleses came from Arantes e Oliveira, Minister of Public Works in Salazar’s government that prevented it from happening. Since then, a series of projects have been discussed but have subsequently been put away because they didn’t manage to get the necessary approvals. Only in 2014, with Carlos Carreiras as mayor of Cascais, was the PPERUCS (Plano de Pormenor do Espaço de Restruturação Urbanística de Carcavelos Sul = Layout Plan of the Urban Restructuring Space of South Carcavelos) approved and by one single vote and amid intense complaining from the population, NGO’s, opposition etc. One of the most serious complaints was that one of the votes, from Zilda Silva then president of the parish council (Junta de Freguesia) of Carcavelos, went against the ruling decision of the parish itself that voted against PPERUCS.
The PPERUCS implies the construction of 850 apartments in 7 to 9 stories high buildings, 3 hotels and commercial areas which will reduce the 540.000m2 green area to a strip with less than 100.000m2, of which about 20.0002 are in the other side of the road and 80.0002 include the stream bed and leisure and sports equipment such as playgrounds, walks and parking. In reality, the green area will be reduced to a mere small garden surrounded by a wall of tall buildings the size of 12 Praças do Comercio of Lisbon.
My point of view is that Alves Ribeiro and Saint Julian’s Association have the right to build since they are the owners of the land …
Owning land is not sufficient and it does not give automatic permission to build. Any construction requires prior authorization issued by the municipality. It is this authorisation (license) that allows the construction. This relates, in particular, to the need for land planning, which is a competence of the State (Government, local authorities, etc.) – hence there are areas where no construction is allowed. It should be noted that, if the municipality Câmara Municipal de Cascais applied the restrictions imposed by the Plano de Ordenamento da Orla Costeira de Alcobaça ao Cabo Espichel (POC-ACE = Development Plan of the Coastal line from Alcobaça to Cabo Espichel), it would not be possible for Alves Ribeiro and St. Julian's to build at all in Quinta dos Ingleses as this National Plan prevents construction within a radius of 500 meters from the sea line and imposes very severe restrictions up to 1000 meters. Therefore, the owners of Quinta dos Ingleses will only have the real right to build if and when the construction licenses are issued. For the time being, they only have the expectation that they will be able to do so, not more.
PPERUCS fulfils or not the Regional Planning norms?
In the case of Quinta dos Ingleses there was an inversion, by the Cascais Municipality, of what the law states as regarding the Regional Planning norms. In fact, the regional planning has several categories of hierarchical organised plans: the National Development Plan (Plano de Ordenamento Nacional): the Regional Plans; the Municipal Master Plans (Planos Diretores Municipais), the Layout Plans (Planos de Pormenor) and the execution plans. The subordinate ones have to adapt and cannot contradict the higher level ones. But in the case of Quinta dos Ingleses this hierarchy is not being complied, what is unacceptable: the Layout Plan (PPERUCS) does not respect the hierarchically superior development plans.
Why shouldn’t the mega-urbanisation go ahead in the Quinta dos Ingleses, as it is a development to Carcavelos and a source of income to the municipality?
Evolution is not made with concrete. Besides what’s the point of generating short term income if later more money will have to be used to solve problems such as an increase in air pollution, coastal erosion due to sand loss, etc? By preserving the green area of Quinta dos Ingleses, the municipality may waive a short term income in the form of taxes that will be largely compensated in the long term benefits of increased welfare and quality of life but also increased value due to the attractiveness of the beach and surrounding landscapes. (See question 4.)
I do not agree with expropriations, since, in general, they are unfair to the land owners …
Expropriations do not harm land owners: The value in a compulsory purchase order or expropriation is determined not by the land owner but by a court of law that will evaluate all the pros and cons and details of the process, namely, the location, what can there be built, potential profit gained with construction, etc. This is done in a fair and just system. If there is disagreement between the entity bringing the compulsory purchase (in this case the municipality) and the land owner the value will be determined by the court. That is what happened with the adjacent land where the Nova SBE University is (that was RAN = Agricultural National Reserve): the municipality Câmara Municipal de Cascais expropriate it and because there was no agreement regarding the price the land owners brought the case to a court that decided on a fair price. In summary, there is no reason why the CMC does not follow the same procedure. By not doing it, the CMC is clearly hinting that it is not concerned with the protection of the site and its preservation as a green area to be used by all (now and in the future) but rather is more concerned in defending the speculative interests of Alves Ribeiro and Saint Julian’s Association.
Anyway, there are in addition alternative to the payment of a compensation in a expropriation, such as the swap of lands where the land owners can build.
The value of compensation announced by the municipality Câmara Municipal de Cascais (CMC) is really the value that will have to be paid to the land owners in case PPERUCS does not get through?
The values that the Municipality of Cascais has been announcing as what it will have to be paid to the land owners in case of breach of agreement or expropriation was never determined – only given by Alves Ribeiro as an estimated value – since that is the competency of the courts. On the other hand, several experts have said that a possible compensation would be much lower than the values mentioned by them. It is also worth notice that the sequence of discrepant and inflationary values that have been mentioned by the mayor since the PPERUCS was first presented to the citizens have only contributed to the distrust of these calculations.
What would happen if the municipality Câmara Municipal de Cascais lets the legal actions presented before the approval of PPERUCS follow its course?
If that happens there is very little probability in they resulting in a legal condemnation. Even if there would be a legal action, it is very unlikely that a court would attribute the totality of the demanded value, not only because the complainant usually asks for more than the real sustained damages but also because there are many extenuating circumstances such as the project being initially approved before the effects of climatic changes were fully understood or the changes in the importance of environmentally clean neighbourhoods. There is also a possibility that, because so much has been happening regarding the PPERUCS, that the land owners (Alves Ribeiro and Saint Julian’s Association) would have to present a new action which would give room to a new reality.
I’ve read somewhere that the municipality Câmara Municipal de Cascais (CMC) declared that is willing to save the Quinta dos Ingleses but that this is the responsibility of the Government …
On May 5, 2021 ended the discussion on the project of allotment of Quinta dos Ingleses in the Environment Commission, with the participation of the Movement SOS Quinta dos Ingleses together with the Forum por Carcavelos, convened by the PAN and PCP parties. In this discussion, the CMC claimed that the entire allotment process was done legally and that if the Government now considers that that area should be classified as protected, it should be the Government to pay for the compensation to the owners.
However, the Government (by the voice of the Minister of the Environment in response to Mrs Inês Sousa Real, of the PAN, in the Assembly of the Republic) made it clear that this is something to be resolved at the local level and that the CMC is the one who has the possibility/tools to stop this process. The Commission for Coordination and Regional Development of Lisbon and Tagus Valley (Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional de Lisboa e Vale do Tejo) mentioned that the PPERUCS was prepared based on the 2011 paradigm (that is 10 years ago) and confirmed that it violates current legal standards and stressed that the responsibility for revoking the Plan is the CMC, an entity that has the competence to do so.
It should also be noted that the head of the Institute for Conservation of Nature and Forests (Instituto de Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas ) considered that, although the ICNF believes that the conditions for the area to be classified as a protected landscape of national level are not met, nothing prevents the creation of a protected landscape at the local level.
But, can the municipality Câmara Municipal de Cascais block the process?
The CMC claims to be powerless to halt the process, but that is not correct, as it has suspended it for six months (until the elections), and so it can suspend for as long as it wants. It is important to mention that who has the power to revoke the PPERUCS is the Municipal Assembly that has approved it in the first place.
Presently and if the CMC effectively wants to preserve the Quinta dos Ingleses, it should present a proposal for the repeal of the PPERUCS in the Municipal Assembly and if the same is approved the amount of compensation to the land owners is reduced to almost nothing. Both the Government, the CCDR-VT (Commission for Coordination and Regional Development of Lisbon and Tagus Valley) and the ICNF (Institute for Conservation of Nature and Forests) have already made it clear that the CMC and only the CMC has the power to halt/revoke the process, as well as classify the Quinta dos Ingleses as Protected Landscape of Local Scope (Paisagem Protegida de Âmbito Local).
It is in the "hands" of the CMC to decide whether to revoke PPERUCS and not issue/renew the building permits, because otherwise it will be responsible for truly granting construction rights to the owner / promoter (who currently does not have them), increasing, now in full knowledge of cause, the amount of entitled compensation and pave the way for the destruction of Quinta dos Ingleses. Therefore, the CMC has every advantage in revoking the PPERUCS if it effectively wants, as it now claims, to preserve the Quinta dos Ingleses.
What now, what are the possible scenarios?
There is the possibility of:
a) The Municipality of Cascais (CMC), through the Municipal Assembly, suspend or revoke the PPERUCS and, consequently, prevent the progress of the works;
(b) Classify the area as a protected landscape of local scope, which will prevent the issuance of works permits and construction;
(c) Expropriate the land;
(d) CMC begin negotiations with Alves Ribeiro and St. Julian's for instance for a land swap with one where there is constructive capacity and where there is no negative impact for the environment or for the population as is the case of Quinta dos Ingleses;
(e) Combine several of these measures.
There are, therefore, several possible scenarios that allow saving the Quinta for the benefit of present and future generations, ensuring the preservation of the environment and the beach of Carcavelos.
Are there funds for the rehabilitation of the green area of Quinta dos Ingleses?
Yes. The Government has mentioned the existence of funds from the "Recovery and Resilience Plan" for the rehabilitation and regeneration of green areas. These amounts will even be increased if the requests are made by the Municipalities together with individuals or associations. SOS Quinta dos Ingleses intends to use this funding in articulation with the local authorities, which is only possible if the municipal executive in charge is committed to reviving Quinta dos Ingleses as an essential public woodland.