You remember that we started a petition last year to urge the Portuguese authorities to think again regarding their permission to allow the area surrounding the Lagoa dos Salgados near Armação de Pêra, Silves, be “developed” with the construction of three hotels, two tourist villages and yet another golf course – adding to the 40 or so golf courses already built in the Algarve.

To remind you, the area surrounding the lagoon is pretty well the last intact piece of countryside adjoining the central Algarve coastline, and any building nearby will be hugely detrimental to the wildlife that uses the lagoon itself and the natural area surrounding it. The lagoon is unique and used not only by thousands of birds on migration, but also as an over-wintering and nesting location, and there are various rare species that use it and that the Portuguese Government is under an obligation to preserve. This preservation will not happen if the go-ahead is given for the Finalgarve ‘Praia Grande’ development.

Thanks to your help and the almost incredible success of the online petition, which so far has gathered over 21,000 signatures, you helped persuade the government to insist that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was carried out before any further action by the developer. This was a huge step forward in the campaign – but it is only one step along the way.

This EIA has now been published, but unfortunately it is in no way an independent one as it has been commissioned and paid for by the developer.

Of course this is an extraordinary situation, but that is how the game is played here.

We have until the 26th July to submit our ‘comments’.

The Portuguese wildlife and nature NGOs that have helped enormously in this fight are responding to the technical aspects of the EIA, but what is also needed are the comments of “everyday folk”, in other words everyone and anyone that has valued the area in the past and hopes to be able to enjoy it in the future, i.e. US!

However, the full document in Portuguese can only be seen as a hard copy in various places in Portugal, and nobody can leave comments unless they actually travel there in person.

The non-tecnical resumé of the EIA is on-line in Portuguese here for anyone who wants to take a look, but for those of us who either don’t speak or understand Portuguese too well there seems to be little that we can contribute at this stage … WRONG!

Please take a minute out of your day, (why not right now?), and write your thoughts as to why the Lagoa dos Salgados and the surrounding area should be preserved as a countryside and wildlife area and not be turned into another development. There are already far too many of these littering what used to be the Algarve’s pristine countryside; many of them are failed projects, and we really don’t need more when the area that will be “developed” is, quite literally, so importantly unique and the last one of its kind.

Once gone it will never come back. Think about it …

All emails should be addressed to “Exmo. Presidente CCDR”, sent to and cc’d to and with the subject line “EIA Praia Grande”.

The fight is not over and with your help enormous progress has already been made to preserve this wonderful area, much to the disappointment of the developer, which by its own admission lacks the funds necessary to build the development and which intends to sell the project on at the first opportunity.

Together we have the chance to make our voices heard and to save this very special place.

It will take you very little time to drop them an email and I feel deeply that is the responsibility of all of us to give a voice to those who cannot be heard – both the wildlife that uses the area now and our descendants who have yet to see and appreciate this unique Algarve habitat that we are still lucky enough to enjoy.

Thank you.