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OPEN LETTER TO COMPANY ALVES RIBEIRO, ST. JULIAN'S SCHOOL, CASCAIS CITY COUNCIL AND PRIME MINISTER




After around 1,500 people demonstrated in Carcavelos on 7 April 2024 against the project to concrete Quinta dos Ingleses, a public petition with 8,288 signatures was delivered to the Portuguese Parliament on 15 May, calling for the protection of Quinta dos Ingleses as a green area and urban park. The large number of demonstrators and signatories to the petition illustrates the importance of preserving the Quinta as a green space. Destroying it, which is everyone's environmental heritage, goes against the most basic rules of respect for nature and citizens' quality of life. It contradicts the laws of land and coastal planning and contemporary urban planning principles.


As a private company, Alves Ribeiro has the right to want its investments to make a profit. Companies exist to make a profit, and we should only applaud those that do.


It would also be nice to applaud Alves Ribeiro for its civic stance in favour of the common good, but unfortunately, in this case, we can't due to the total lack of search for an alternative solution and the environmental risk that this project represents.


St. Julian's School is a prestigious school organisation that has existed for almost 100 years and offers its pupils an above-average quality of education. St Julian's School also has the right to want to expand and improve its facilities to attract more pupils. But we must ask its leaders directly if they are aware of the terrible example of citizenship and civic-mindedness that they are giving to their current pupils by commenting on the destruction of this environmental ex-libris that is Quinta dos Ingleses, thus tarnishing the institution's image forever.


As a local government body, the Cascais Municipal Council (CMC) should guarantee the public interest, not private profits or pure property speculation. But it is well known that, for many years now, the CMC has transformed itself into a kind of corporate holding company committed to developing intensive urbanism that has de-characterised the municipality and taken away the quality of life of its residents. And it continues to do so, given the autistic and unilateral behaviour of its main political leaders.


The destruction of the 52 hectares of Quinta dos Ingleses by building massive concrete structures there is not at all in line with the electoral programme of the current Prime Minister.


Furthermore, on 27 February, the European Parliament approved the Nature Restoration Act, which sets the goal of restoring at least 20% of the land and sea areas of the European Union by 2030 and all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.


As concerned citizens, advocates of preserving the Quinta as a natural green space and, above all, concerned about the legacy we are leaving to future generations, we leave the recipients of this open letter the challenge to reconsider the ecocide they are committing, which could lead to the disappearance of Carcavelos Beach, and our contribution:


1 - Quinta dos Ingleses must remain a natural green space, which, given its long neglect, must obviously be intervened upon from a landscape and forestry perspective.


2 - Its green base can (and should) be complemented by the other non-conflicting functions that already exist there: educational facilities (St Julian's School), cultural and recreational/sports facilities (football pitch of the Grupo Sportivo de Carcavelos).


3 - Using positive examples from other countries and taking into account the existence of two prestigious educational institutions on the site (St Julian's School and Nova SBE right next door), Quinta dos Ingleses could be transformed into an educational/training campus in the field of biology and nature conservation, rehabilitating the ruined buildings as a museum centre that would do justice to the important historical legacy of the Quinta and/or a teaching and cultural centre.


4 - The creation of a significant natural urban park (like, for example, Porto City Park), in a locally protected area, would make it possible to promote and perpetuate the Alves Ribeiro name, associating this powerful economic group with the history of Carcavelos and the preservation of nature and public well-being.


5 - The future urban park could offset a company's carbon emissions (Alves Ribeiro, S.A.), which, as a construction company, is necessarily responsible for emitting tonnes of CO2.


6—Funds from the RRP could support the financing of these ideas, so at least part of the compensation for Alves Ribeiro and St Julian's School could come from European funds.


7 - CMC owns countless plots of land in the municipality of Cascais with constructive viability and will only be unable to find a bargaining chip with Alves Ribeiro if it continues not to make the slightest effort to do so.


In the name, above all, of future generations, the recipients of this open letter are asked to sit around a table as often as necessary so that the quality of life on the Carcavelos coastline is not jeopardised once and for all, without minimising the damaging effects that the destruction of the Quinta will have on the current configuration of the coastline and, in the long term, on the magnificent sandy beach of Praia de Carcavelos.


It should be remembered that the European Environment Agency's most recent report advocates limiting the development of cities in areas more susceptible to flooding (as is the case with Carcavelos) and relocating buildings to coastal regions.


Suppose none of the first three recipients of this written manifestation take the initiative. In that case, it will naturally be up to the Prime Minister, through the relevant ministerial portfolios, to find a solution that aligns with the electoral programme that elected him.


programme that elected him.


Otherwise, the Portuguese and the country will lose a lot.

SOS QUINTA DOS INGLESES’


This open letter was published in Expresso newspaper on 25/05/2024. Caderno de Economia, page 23.


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