Dear members of `Monchique Alerta´, friends and fellow citizens,
The moment has finally arrived to get answers and justice, so speak now and have a voice. Was the great forest fire, which started in Monchique on Friday the 3rd of August 2018, really triggered by an EDP power line (15 kV) in Perna da Negra? It raged for a week and destroyed 28,000 hectares of land.
If so, as the Criminal Investigation Department (Policia Judiciária), after completing its 18-month forensic investigation claims, the public prosecution (Ministério Público) in Portimão will accuse the EDP Distribuição SA for infringement of the law Decreto Regulamentar 1/92 DRE, Artigo 28, Secção 3 in a few days. The EDP Distribuição SA is obliged by this law to clear the land between 7.5 and 22.5 meters distance right and left to their high-voltage lines, so no trees can touch their power lines and thus cannot cause a forest fire.
The legal and economic consequences that this may have for Monchique and the possibilities arising for `Monchique Alerta´ will be discussed at an information event with all members. It will take place in the Cooperativa Agrícola do Concelho de Monchique, Pé da Cruz, (2nd floor) on Friday, 20th of March at 7 pm. We have invited the attorney Rui Amores from the law firm Mascarenhas, Amores & Ass. in Portimão to this meeting. Questions must be sent in writing until Wednesday, 18th of March, 6pm by email to ensure they will be included in this critical meeting.
Entry: 6.30 pm, Start: 7pm sharp, End: 9 pm
The Eucalyptus that touched the power line
The associationMonchique-Alerta, Serra Livre De Incêndios stated in his press release on February 20:
EDP Distribuição SA. is responsible (in Portugal) for the maintenance of its overhead lines, including those that run exclusively through forests and where electricity is transported over long distances. We are talking about a total of 28,600 km of high-voltage lines. By law, EDP is obliged to prune all trees to the right and left of its overhead power lines between 7.5 and 22.5 metres, depending on the type of line and voltage, to prevent contact, sparks and forest fires. (Decreto Regulamentar 1/92 DRE, Artigo 28, Secção 3)
Both the forest fire at Pedrogão Grande in 2017 and the forest fires at Monchique one year later were caused by wind from tree contacts with overhead power lines (15 kV). The Monchique 2018 wall fire broke out on Friday 3 August at 13h32 in Perna da Negra, 12 km north of Monchique. This is the result of one and a half years of forensic investigations and the interrogations of all those directly involved on site by the Polícia Judiciária Portimão. The independent technical expert opinion for the Parliament ( Assembleia da República) also comes to this conclusion. (Page 21 Final_Relatório_Monchique.pdf)
Professor Dr Domingos Xavier Viegas (69) of the University of Coimbra and his team of specialists have also analysed all major forest fires in Portugal over a period of more than 40 years, and found that two out of three forest fires in 2018 were caused by contact between eucalyptus and EDP overhead power lines. (publication Visão, 2-6-2019, Hugo Séneca)
The association Monchique-Alerta, Serra livre de Incêndios, which represents more than 100 Monchique residents and foreigners affected by the 2018 forest fire, today expresses its full confidence in the police investigators and the public prosecutor’s office in Portimão not to give in to the EDP’s attempts to deny its responsibility. The police and the judiciary are doing their job independently and conscientiously, questioning the responsible accused of the EDP and the forest fire that destroyed 27 000 hectares of forest and agricultural land and almost all the fauna and flora of the Monchique district, including 74 houses. The time will come for EDP to acknowledge its responsibility and to approach the victims with a view to possible claims for damages in the millions, so that Monchique can finally receive justice, pay for the material damage, replant forests with native tree species and compensate for the economic losses. The Monchique-Alerta association continues to fight for a Serra de Monchique and for a Portugal without forest fires.