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A2 Motorway, Portugal

The second largest freeway in the country, with 240.2 km in length, was completed in 2002 but raised concerns over the Castro Verde Special Protection Area.


The A2 highway connects Lisbon to Albufeira and passes through the districts of Setúbal, Évora, Beja, and Faro. It is the second largest freeway in the country, with 240.2 km in length. It was built to facilitate travel from Lisbon to resort areas on the southern coast. The construction of the A2 was completed in 2002.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:A2 Motorway, Portugal
State or province:Algarve
Location of conflict:Castro Verde Special Protection Area (between Castro Verde and Aljustrel)
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Biological resources
Transport services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Portugal's rate of motorization has expanded significantly in the last decade of the 20th century. The high investment in highway construction has been accompanied by the increase in private transport use. In 1990 highways had a length of 330 km spread across the whole country, growing to 737 km in 2010.

Level of Investment:6,5 milhões
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1997
End of the conflict:11/11/2002
Company names or state enterprises:Brisa (Brisa) from Portugal
Relevant government actors:Governo Central de Portugal
Ministério do Ambiente
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Grupo de Estudos de Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente (GEOTA) Associação nacional de conservação da natureza (Quercus)
Liga para a Proteção da Natureza (LPN)
Conflict & Mobilization
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Noise pollution, Oil spills, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Air pollution
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Other socio-economic impactsThe old road to Algarve (EN2) have local economical activities, such as restaurants, cafes and shops selling local products that closed or have less visitors.
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Expansion of the protected area as a compensatory measure following a ECJ ruling
Development of alternatives:The environmental organizations proposed the study of different areas and the deviation of the route section affecting Castro Verde Special Protection Area. In the end the original route section was approved and an EU ruling ordered as a compensatory measure the expansion of the Castro Verde Special Protection Area.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The motorway was constructed, but Castro Verde Special Protection Area was enlarged.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Habitat Directive and Natura 2000 network
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

MADALENO, Marta; MELO, João Joanaz. Can EIA improve energy performance of transportation? 32ND ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR IMPACT ASSESSMENT Energy Future — The Role of Impact Assessment Porto, Portugal, 27 May - 1 June 2012.
[click to view]

GARCIA, Graça Maria Dias. Impacte da Auto-Estrada A2 na Zona de Protecção Especial de Castro Verde: Efeitos na Distribuição e Densidade de Sisão. Resumo. Dissertação de Mestrado. Instituto de Estradas de Portugal, 2004.
[click to view]

ARAGÃO, Alexandra. Ultrapassar o défice ecológico em tempo de crise (económica). Breves reflexões sobre o dever de restauração de habitats in Peralta et al (orgs.) Direito e justiça ambiental: diálogos interdisciplinares sobre a crise ecológica. Caxias do Sul: Educs,2014.pp.191-215.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Luís Filipe (2000) Ambientalistas preparam queixa à Europa. Jornal Público, 11 de Fevereiro de 2000.
[click to view]

GARCIA, Ricardo. Tribunal europeu condena Portugal pelo traçado da Auto-Estrada do Algarve. Jornal Público, 27 de Outubro de 2006.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network


Ecoturismo na ZPE de Castro Verde

Castro Verde Sustentável.
[click to view]

Castro Verde Special Protection Area
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor: Sofia Bento, Stefania Barca and Teresa Meira
Last update18/08/2019
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