Minister of the Environment “eyes closed” on intensive agriculture

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João Pedro Matos Fernandes, Minister of the Environment, continues to shy away from questions about the expansion of the greenhouse area in the Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo, when asked at a hearing in the parliamentary committee on the Environment on the subject.

“The Ministry of the Environment cannot turn a blind eye”, criticized the deputy Mariana Silva, from the parliamentary group Os Verdes, pointing to “the plastic sea, intensive use of pesticides and pressure on unstable areas in the middle of the protected area”.

In the question raised at the parliamentary hearing at the Commission for Environment, Energy and Spatial Planning, this Tuesday, the deputy of Os Verdes also underlined the need for “more inspection and limitation of this type of agricultural production” in the Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast.

In view of the questions raised about intensive agriculture in this protected area, the Minister for the Environment and Climate Action limited himself to repeating what he has said, that there was “an objective reduction to half of the areas that can be waterproofed in the area of ​​the irrigation perimeter. Mira ”.

Matos Fernandes said that “approximately two and a half years ago, 80 percent irrigation plots could be occupied with greenhouses, stoves, tunnels and other plastic structures”, for horticultural crops, and that “this percentage was reduced to 40% ”.

The greenhouse area currently occupies 1545 hectares in the Mira irrigation perimeter, in the municipalities of Odemira and Aljezur (300 hectares more than in 2019), according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture.

“We still do not understand how the Minister of the Environment denies this evidence, in view of the continuous increase in pollution by plastic and pesticides, in a protected area”, deputy Mariana Silva told Expresso, at the end of the hearing.

Asked by the PSD deputy, Filipa Roseta, on the sensitive values ​​to preserve in the Natural Park of the Southwest Alentejo, Matos Fernandes informed that “the ICNF has committed to map the most sensitive areas in the Mira irrigation perimeter” and that “this work is done”.

Beatriz Gomes Dias, from BE, asked questions about the conflict between the National Strategy for Biodiversity 2030 and this type of intensive agricultural exploitation and the authorization given by the Government to place “removable temporary housing units”, to which the minister of Ambiente said that “the much-criticized prefabricated buildings were not built”.

On the other hand, the PSD deputy, Bruno Coimbra, did not skimp on the criticisms about the works taking place in various areas of Lisbon or the country, ignoring the problem of contaminated soils.

The minister admitted the delays and announced that “within a maximum period of two months” ProSolos will be approved by the Council of Ministers.

Pre-made products are a solution for immigrants in Odemira

Matos Fernandes defended that the prefabricated products authorized by the Government to house immigrant workers in Odemira can be a “more than temporary” solution to the bad conditions they currently have.

“I realize that they say containers, but, objectively, those provisional constructions are prefabricated with much better conditions than those that exist in overworked and unconditioned masonry houses ”in which workers hired to work on fruit and vegetable farms live, said João Pedro Matos Fernandes.

“More than provisional, that can be a much better solution [para trabalhadores ocasionais] than many others that we have faced ”, he stated in the Parliamentary Commission for Environment, Energy and Spatial Planning.

In 2019, a resolution of the Council of Ministers determined that “temporary accommodation facilities removable ”(IATA) in the Mira Hydro-Agricultural Development area to“ accommodate temporary agricultural workers ”, which would be assimilated to“ structures complementary to agricultural activity ”.

Matos Fernandes considered that “what happened badly after 2019 in Odemira” was that “the so criticized IATA were not built”.

The result, and “here was the failure”, was that many workers ended up living in overcrowded houses.

However, yesterday the President of the Republic said that he was informed by the Prime Minister that the sanitary fence would be erected.

Mayor of Longueira-Almograve expects “new stage”

The president of the Longueira-Almograve Parish Council considered this Tuesday that the lifting of the sanitary fence due to the covid-19 “does not solve the problem of Odemira”, but said she hoped that “a new stage” will begin in the municipality.

“The lifting of the fence announced by the Prime Minister does not solve the problem of Odemira, nor of the parishes”, but “we hope that today begins a new stage, that a retrospective of what happened here be done, ”said the chairman of the board, Glória Pacheco, to the Lusa news agency.

According to the mayor, it is necessary that, after the end of the sanitary fence that has been in force in Longueira-Almograve and São Teotónio, two of the 13 parishes in the municipality of Odemira (Beja), “the prevaricators” and “properly punished” are identified.

At a ceremony in Odemira, in the Beja district, the prime minister, António Costa, announced yesterday that the sanitary fence decreed for those two parishes in that municipality is raised as of 00:00 on Wednesday.

The prime minister was speaking shortly after the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said that he had been informed by António Costa of the end of restrictions in that municipality on the Alentejo coast.

The president of the Longueira-Almograve Parish Council said she hoped that, now, “what was less bad will be corrected and what was good can continue”.

And that the Prime Minister, António Costa, “do not forget that, in addition to immigrants, there is much more in Odemira and that there are situations that urgently need to be resolved,” he added.

The sanitary fence in Longueira-Almograve and São Teotónio was decreed by the Government, in the Council of Ministers, on April 29 and entered into force the following day, due to the high incidence of cases of covid-19, especially in workers in the agricultural sector. , many of them immigrants.