Tourism, industry and environment debate
Tourism, industry and environment. Three of the pillars intended for the development of Figueira da Foz have been discussed this Tuesday night at CAE, in a conference with the participation of the architect Manuel Traveira, author of the master thesis “From Cabaret to Desert” about elements of the civil movement “SOS Cabedelo” – Eurico Gonçalves and Miguel Figueira – the project coordinator and expert of Working Group of Coastal areas, Filipe Duarte Santos, and the director of Celbi and also the president of Figueira da Foz Port Community, Hermano Sousa, for a discussion by Miguel Babo. The initiative, included in Figueira Film Art 2015 schedule, attracted around 60 people.
From Praia da Claridade to Praia Grande
It is not thought that the sand of Figueira da Foz wants to earn the name of Sintra Beach, but if size were the primary criterion, Claridade Beach would have been named a long time ago. Could it have been otherwise? Probably not without human intervention. At least that is what Manuel Traveira, who studied the evolution of Figueira’s sand in his master’s degree, defended. “During 2 years of research, among others, I came across a report from the National Laboratory of Civil Engineering, which in 1958 already addressed the issues of sedimentation and sand area growth, acknowledging the need to resort to artificial means for pre and/or post-elimination of sands to the north and transposing them into the southern beaches… a report from 1958 that could be up to current days.” he lamented, warning that the delay to resolve the problem will have as consequence “Sand’s continuing growth, forming cliffs” and also the increased occurrence of “high waves damaging both small and large fishing boats.” Damages to the commercial port, and by implication, to the region’s industry, plus the damage in tourism, according to the architect. “The city’s relationship with the sea has come to dissolve, in fact, no longer exists” he said. The expansion of piers “is not a feasible solution anymore” he defended.
Those who were hoping, contradictory to the position of the SOS Cabedelo civic movement, which has defended in public the construction of a by-pass (a tunnel for continuous displacement of sands from the north to the south), will be disappointed. Duarte Santos said that the case of Figueira da Foz “is one of the most glaring” in relation to coastal erosion, and he also argued that “there is no incompatibility between having a port and a beach that isn’t overly huge, such as the one currently exists.”, so long as a solution is provided and implemented. “And there’s nothing extraordinary, is just transporting the sand from north to south,” he summarized. “In Australia, the by-pass solution worked fine in a similar but more complicated case in terms of layout.”, he said. “The public authorities need to be in possession of reliable studies, willing to develop cost-benefit analysis and implement the best solution.” Manuel summed up adding that in his opinion, the fixed by-pass is indeed the best long-term solution. “Portugal has also a long tradition of coastal engineering.”, he reminded convinced that “the conditions necessary are set up for progress towards”, once he believes that “There is Community funds” available. “Political will and funding is necessary”, he concluded.
“So, what is missing?”, Miguel Babo asked. For Filipe Duarte Santos, who would be supported by other interested parties and even people in the audience, “Firstly the lack of mobilization”, demand of responses by citizens to public authorities. “We are all responsible for this”, he stated assuming that in its contacts with the Figueira da Foz Council he felt “some degree of mistrust towards the existence of funds in order to carry a project of this scope until the end”.
Hermano Souza has not delivered an opinion about what the best solution is but acknowledged the problem. “We have reached an extreme situation, where the extent of the beach is not viable, and since the traditional responses no longer serve, you must think out of the box”, he defended. Avoiding silting and water ways that make navigation and transposition of bar difficult needs to be part of the solution for a positive result of tourism, industry, and environment. “Figueira da Foz is one of the most important forest industry poles, and its port handles over two million tons of cargo”, he stresses, in conclusion.
Throughout the evening, Miguel Figueira and Eurico Gonçalves also contributed to a conversation without contradictions, since the by-pass solution was uncontested. So far, the authority of Figueira da Foz has still not taken a definitive position on the proposed path by the SOS Cabedelo civic movement, but the councilor with the responsible Parliamentary, Ana Carvalho, despite having been invited, did not attend the colloquium.
Translation by: Larissa Kusuki