Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: Wildlife Woes, Environmental Success, Porto in the Spotlight, Uber Mistaken Identities, and much, much more!
Cars and Cabs Over Buses and Bikes
It was recently reported that “93.3% of people in Lisbon live within 300m of a frequent public transport service.” However, this doesn’t seem to make any difference at all, because just 15.8% of people in Lisbon (11.1% in Porto) use public transport as their primary means of getting around. These findings come from Statistics Portugal, who found that most people travel by car because they find it speedier and more comfortable than public transport. Not so green after all.
WWF Water Woes
The World Wildlife Foundation is best known for their cuddly pandas, but this week they have been berating Portugal for its foul water. Following a report by the European Environmental Agency, the WWF representative, and director of Associação Natureza Portugal, came out to say that, “Portugal is one of the poorest countries in the enforcement of environmental laws,” which is negatively impacting rivers and agricultural water supplies. Portugal is not alone, as the state of water across Europe is very poor, says the WWF.
New Tourist Resort Set to Destroy Natural Area
Speaking of environmental degradation, there is a new tourist resort planned in the Algarve. The “urban hub” would damage wetlands, in what is one of the few natural areas remaining in the area. This endeavor comes from a real estate fund linked to the Espírito Santo Group. João Santos, the head of Almargem, said that the new development “will mark very negatively the entire local landscape, as well as jeopardize the preservation of nature.”
Saving the Environment a Lidl at a Time
However, it’s not all doom and gloom! Lidl just announced that they will no longer sell single-use plastics in Portugal. This will include products like cups and plates, which will be replaced with alternative and recyclable materials, according to their statement on Facebook. This is the first step in what appears to be a series of changes the company is set to make.
Drilling Halted by PALP
In another environmental success, a court has ruled in favor of Plataforma Algarve Livre de Petróleo, and against the ENI-Galp consortium. This means that they will not be allowed to carry out exploratory drilling off of Aljezur.
Shops opening left, right, and center in Porto
Economically, Portugal has come a long way over the past few years. While much of the investment is focussed on Lisbon, Porto is starting to attract attention too. This is most obvious in the retail sector, with the number of shops opening there in 2017 more than doubling from 2016. This growth has been attributed to tourism and the “urban rehabilitation” of the city. To give an idea of just how tourist-focused this is, 45% of openings between 2015 and 2018 were of cafes, bars, and restaurants.
Police Officer Charged with Assault
For those following Lisbon news, you will remember the uproar in 2015 following the beating of Benfica fans by a police officer. Well, the officer in question was convicted of assault, along with charges relating to the attempted cover-up. He has just received a three-year suspended sentence and a fine of 7236€ for punching and clubbing a man and his father following a football match. The excuse used was “fear,” which is apparently enough to get out of prison time for two counts of assault.
That was not the only assault in the news this week, as a tourist from Dubai was beaten by a taxi driver. The incident took place in Chiado after the tourist stopped to ask for information, was assumed to be an Uber driver, and subsequently attacked. This is not the first time taxi drivers have attacked members of the car-sharing app, but seems to be the first case of mistaken identity.
Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!