The mayors of Caminha, Ponte de Lima and Viana do Castelo today asked the Government to maintain the “coherence” and “be at the side” of the municipalities in the valorization of the Serra d’Arga and against mining in that protected area.
“The Government and Tourism of Portugal, today, have recognized, once again, the value of nature that underlies Serra d’Arga. They are supporting us in the enhancement of the garranos, in the paths of natural enhancement ”, the Mayor of Caminha, Miguel Alves, told Lusa, referring to the signing, today, of the contract for the project Equestrian Villages and Villages between Arga and Lima , within the scope of the Valorizar Program, in a global investment of more than 268 thousand euros.
The socialist mayor, who was speaking at the headquarters of the Regional Tourism Authority of Porto e Norte, in Viana do Castelo, on the sidelines of that session, chaired by the Secretary of State for Tourism, said that the “route” that the three municipalities “have made in last years and want to continue, it is different from other projects that exist for Serra d’Arga ”, referring to the intention of mining in that mountain.
According to the State Budget proposal, the Government wants to create in 2020 a ‘cluster’ of lithium and the battery industry and will launch a public tender for the allocation of exploration rights for lithium and associated minerals in nine areas of the country.
The Serra d’Arga, Barro / Alvão, Seixo / Vieira, Almendra, Barca Dalva / Canhão, Argemela, Guarda, Segura and Maçoeira areas must be covered.
“The Government, so far, has been at our side. The municipalities only ask for consistency in this strategy of enhancing the natural, geological, landscape and cultural heritage of Serra d’Arga. ”, He maintained.
For Miguel Alves, the tourist project presented today, which aims to promote the horse of the Garrana breed, typical of that area, “is another piece in the strategy” drawn by the three municipalities.
The socialist defended that “interests should be weighed”, placing “in one of the scales the natural landscape value, and the well-being of the population and, in the other,” the valorization of a mining operation “.
Also the Mayor of Ponte de Lima, Victor Mendes (CDS), demanded “respect for the populations, for the mayors, for the environmental, cultural and patrimonial values of Serra d’Arga”.
“If these values are respected, I have no doubt that the exploration of lithium in the Serra d’Arga is not compatible”, he reinforced, guaranteeing that the valorization strategy that the municipalities defined for Serra d’Arga is “unequivocally the correct one ”.
“I think that common sense will prevail. If we want to talk about economics, this is the way, what we are following, in favor of the economy and our people. It is not the other way, ”he added.
The Mayor of Viana do Castelo, José Maria Costa, stressed the “unanimity” of the mayors and added that “the Government will have the good sense to continue betting on Serra d’Arga as a territory of protected landscape, of values and cultural heritage and where explorations do not make sense ”, he said.
The Serra d’Arga covers an area of 10,000 hectares in the municipalities of Caminha, Vila Nova de Cerveira, Paredes de Coura, Viana do Castelo and Ponte de Lima, of which 4,280 hectares are classified as a Site of Community Importance.
Those five municipalities have the “From Serra d’Arga to Foz do Âncora” project, led by the Alto Minho Intermunicipal Community (CIM), which aims to classify Serra d’Arga as a Protected Landscape Area of Municipal Interest.
The Equestrian Villages and Villages project between Arga and Lima represents an investment of 268 thousand euros and is supported by Turismo de Portugal under the Valorizar Program with a budget of 95 thousand euros.
The project, already underway and scheduled for completion in December 2021, provides for the “creation of an intermunicipal network of signage and interpreted equestrian routes between the Serra de Arga and the Lima valley, with connection to the routes already existing along the Ribeira Lima from the urban area of Viana do Castelo to Lanheses.
The initiative also contemplates the “creation of a certified, signed and disseminated network of tourism service providers”.