* Admissibility date reflects the date the case was officially registered. All other dates pertain to the date in which a stage was completed.
The project concerns the comprehensive upgrading and expansion of the facilities at the port of Aveiro; new expanded facilities for dry and liquid bulk cargoes, extension of the quay for general cargo, fishing facilities and the road access to the port together with a major expansion of the stacking areas.
The complainant raised concerns regarding the design of the project, its environmental impacts and the strategic and economical choices made by the authorities regarding the project, notably concerning an improper design for the prolongation of the North jetty at the entrance of the port and important environmental impacts due to the inaccurate design.
The EIB-CM assessment & investigation
In the analysis of documents and information provided by the complainant as well as the EIB services and following internal consultations with the EIB services responsible for the project the EIB-CM found that the North Jetty extension is a key project for the on-going Strategic plan of the Aveiro Port and one of its main objectives is to enhance safe navigation conditions at the port entry. For the project five alternative design solutions had been studied and evaluated covering both the reconfiguration of the North and the South jetties as well as the maintenance of the current piers’ configuration.
Based on the preliminary studies executed by the local authorities, the solution was selected because it would increase the security of the entrance of the port, it would allow for access of larger vessels and because of its minimal negative impacts overall. Moreover, the selected alternative was approved and received a favourable DIA (environmental permit) by the Portuguese authorities. Besides, the environmental permit established an important set of monitoring plans on the sediment and water quality.
In the approval procedure for the EIA, public hearings had been held and the complainant’s opinion had been registered as well as the reasons for not choosing his solution.
The EIB-CM concludes that the complainant had, and indeed made use of, the opportunity to express his concerns during the public hearings. The local authorities issued an environmental permit which included a series of mitigation measures and requests for detailed monitoring in order to ensure that the project has less negative environmental impacts than initially foreseen.
The EIB Complaints Mechanism is not competent to investigate complaints concerning national, regional or local authorities but is limited to investigate the EIB due diligence process regarding its operational services’ review of the approval by local authorities in relation to EIAs.
Following the EIB-CM’s assessment & investigation, the EIB-CM sees no reason for the EIB to have questioned the chosen alternative for this project in particular as the local authorities requested various mitigation measures and monitoring plans, which is in line with current regulations and policies.
Therefore the EIB-CM concludes that the EIB did not commit any maladministration in its due diligence process of reviewing the EIA process for the Aveiro Port project.