Civic Movement “Against the Cable Car in Curral das Freiras” – Madeira Island

We hereby ask for your help to publicize this civic initiative within your media and issue your opinion on the project’s public Consultation, available through this link, until April 8th.

The protected landscape of one of the most stunning towns in Madeira Island, Curral das Freiras, is the target of a Mega Tourism project that will permanently deface its mountains.

Called as a “unique and incomparable rural world” by National Geographic, this stunning town located at the bottom of the crater of a super-volcano, is now vulnerable to the pressures of real-estate speculation, despite its EU protected Classification.

 This establishes a dangerous precedent, not only for Curral das Freiras, but for all the protected landscapes of Portugal that now find themselves for sale to the highest bidder, skirting all strict environmental legislation established by the European Union.

This project consists of the construction of two cable cars, one being the second largest in Europe with 3 km length, an Adventure Park, a Zip-line and a Restaurant. The modern-architecture buildings that will be built all have significant dimensions, being one of them four storeys high. They will be built on the top of the mountains surrounding two stellar viewpoints: Paredão and Boca da Corrida.

The Regional Government of Madeira started with land expropriation proceedings under a dubious use of a “Declaration of Public Utility” on 3rd December 2021. This technical legal action was done even before any known Environmental Impact Study, a mandatory public document that must be done for all projects in protected areas.

The Portuguese law of Public Utility is aimed for emergency infrastructures, like roads and coastal management, that benefits and ensures the safety of local populations. In this case it was used for a Cable Car project and an Adventure Park that will be run as a business entirely by a Private Entity.

Several judicial actions have already been presented to the courts to invalidate this government appropriation of lands for the cable car infrastructures.

This project, budgeted in 35 million euros, will most likely be, in one way or another, entirely financed by public funds, whether they are European funds, local government funds and Tax advantages. Upon its completion the project will be given to a private entity to commercially explore it.

This has sparked local outrage and fueled the creation of a civic movement “Contra o Teleférico no Curral das Freiras” – “Against the cable car in Curral das Freiras” that in a few months has already gathered 2200 followers.

The Civic movement “Contra o Teleférico no Curral das Freiras” is fighting to keep this natural monument untouched for future generations.

We believe that this project disrespects national and international environmental norms, as well as disrespects the ancestral cultural heritage of Madeira Island.

The infrastructures for the two cable car lines are located in environmentally classified zones, E.U’s Natura 2000 Network, ZEC -Special Protection Zones of Habitats Directive, and within the perimeter of the Madeira Natural Park.

This project also jeopardises the survival of a marine bird, in a critical state of conservation, the Freira da Madeira (Pterodroma madeira) and the Madeira Pipistrellus bat. Both species are classified as “at risk of extinction”, and both legally protected by the Portuguese and European Union legal system.

The cable car project interferes with the flying routes of the two species, in addition to many other wild species of maximum ecological relevance.

 All infrastructures in this project are occupying nesting and feeding areas, causing noise, visual and acoustic pollution, creating invisible obstacles, increasing the risk of collision with cables and cable car cabins

There is also a severe lack of additional studies and data  required by law,   reported recently by the Associação Observatório Paisagens e Panoramas (Observatory Landscapes and Panoramas Association)

“DL n. 140/99 transposes into the Portuguese legal system the 92/43/CEE Habitats Directive, which defines the management procedures for Natura 2000 sites and their areas classified as ZEC Special Protection Zones according to the provisions of article 6 of the Habitats directive.

The cable car side that is inside the ZEC Maciço Montanhoso Central is legally obliged to comply with this legislation and subject to nullity and the validity case this studies are done and presented.

Portugal as a country of the European Union assumes and complies with European legislation and Madeira is not an independent state, its legislative autonomy does not involve changes to EU legislation and the Portuguese Constitution, hence the Habitats Directive and all its legislation, regulations and criteria of the Natura 2000 Network, is fully applicable in the Autonomous Region of Madeira.
However, for this point of the project, the government has not present the mandatory study, called AA, Adequate Assessment.

All others infrastructures, outside the ZEC Habitats site, Maciço Montanhoso Central Ocidental, are projected within the perimeter of the Natural Park of Madeira, which, by itself, classifies all that mountainous scenery as Protected Landscape, hence several other parameters and rules of legal and technical analysis must follow appropriate standards.

The Landscape Observatory considers it unspeakable and unseemly that it is the entity that manages the reserve areas and special protection zones, to present such an attack on the natural and cultural heritage of Madeira.”

Best Regards,

Civic Movement “Against The Cable Car in Curral das Freiras”


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