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Administrative mess allows construction of hotel on Matosinhos beach

The investigation into the licensing process for the construction of a hotel in Praia da Memória, in Matosinhos, was shelved by the Public Ministry (MP). After all, the licensing was possible because of confusion among public entities and no evidence of corruption or illegal benefits was collected in a process that had no defendants.

According to the Porto Regional Department of Investigation and Prosecution (DIAP), the developer of the work managed to obtain the license to proceed with the construction of the hotel because there were "opposing legal understandings of the administrative entities regarding the inclusion or exclusion of the area in question as a National Ecological Reserve (REN)". That is, the Matosinhos City Council understood, at the time, that the work was in a constitutive zone and gave authorization to move forward with the development in 2019. The municipality licensed the work because it received a guarantee from the Commission for Coordination and Regional Development of the North (CCDR-N) that the land in question was not included in the REN.

But after complaints from local associations and residents, the construction became controversial and was embargoed. The Ministry of the Environment opened an investigation that concluded that the land was definitely in a protected area.

"After conducting multiple investigative steps, given the elements collected, the Public Ministry concluded that it is not possible to state, with the necessary indicative certainty, that the actions attributed to the accused have been conducted by the will to disobey the legal formalities that were required of them, depending on their functional category, and that it has been conditioned by the intention to obtain, for himself or for a third party, illegitimate benefit, or cause harm to others," explains the MP.

Meanwhile, in August 2020, the project promoter, Mário Ascenção, advanced with a request for compensation of 19.6 million euros and requested the annulment of the order that led to the embargo of the work.

In the same year, Luísa Salgueiro, Mayor of Matosinhos, assured that the Municipality "has no responsibility" when it comes to assuming the payment of compensation of 19.63 million euros. This is because "the City scrupulously complied with the decisions of the entity that oversees the National Ecological Reserve (REN)".


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