Quad bike tours on island given go-ahead
Legislation to introduce quad bike tours was approved by the House of Assembly, despite the opposition of environmental groups.
Walter Roban, the Minister of Transport, said tours will be limited to seven vehicles and will only be allowed on paved roads or service roads.
Mr Roban told the House that vehicles will only be ridden as part of a guided tour operated by a licensed operator, and the licence will be granted for one year on a trial basis.
Cole Simons, the Shadow Minister of Education, expressed concerns that allowing the vehicles into Hog Bay Park would set a precedent.
He said: “If they start up in one park, what’s stopping other businessmen starting a business in other parks in Bermuda. I’m looking down the road to our future.
“To me, the parks should be preserved as one of the gems of this country.”
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said he had come under fire for saying the opinions of those who live east of White Hill should not get a say.
He added that while the Government received hundreds of objections, the majority focused on noise.
Colonel Burch said: “I’m not sure how you could hear the sound of anything riding along the tracks if you live in St David’s, where one of the objectors were.”
He said others had objected to “things that were not in fact going to take place”.
Colonel Burch said he had met with the family planning to operate the tour business and was impressed by their professionalism.
He added the family had decided to launch the venture because their son could not find work on the island despite having a degree in actuarial science.
Colonel Burch said he believed the Government had taken a “measured and reasonable approach”, and the objections stemmed from the action being taken by a Progressive Labour Party government.
Sylvan Richards of the One Bermuda Alliance said that he had come under fire over quad bike tours while he was minister.
He told the House that he had been approached by the family and supported their proposal on the grounds that they get all the proper permits and permissions.
Mr Richards said he later saw debate on social media that completely mischaracterised the proposal.
He said: “I got slammed for weeks and weeks. I was called all sorts of names by our own supporters.”
Mr Richards said he still believed the proposal would work for Bermuda.
He said: “I support ATVs. I support the people behind it. I know they will do a very good job because they are professionals.”
Michael Scott, a PLP backbencher, said the proposal had been criticised by some because the entrepreneur behind it was black.
However, Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister for National Security, said this was not a racial issue.
He said: “This is about a change a lot of people are uncomfortable with and that’s why they have objections.”
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said he initially had concerns about the proposal after seeing the outcry on social media, but he said the right precautions have been put in place to protect the environment and the public.
Mr Caines said a “false narrative” had developed that the Government did not care about the environment.
He added: “At the end of the year, if the requirements are not met, we have an opportunity to come back, discuss it further or scrap the idea all together.”
Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, said those who have complained about the noise have not raised issues about the noise caused by those who ride motocross bikes along the same trails.
He added that he had worked with community officers to address that issue, but the lack of a similar outcry made him question people’s intentions.
Mr Simmons said he was satisfied the legislation addressed the public’s concerns and the end result would be a successful business that attracts tourists and locals.
He said: “It’s something different. It’s something for people to enjoy. It’s a beautiful part of Bermuda and we have an opportunity to share that with the world.”
Leah Scott, the deputy Opposition leader, said the Government was in a “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” situation.
She added: “If there’s something that isn’t working, we can change it. If we find that something needs to be enhanced, we can do that.
“I also believe that no one is going to pass a piece of legislation with the intention of destroying Bermuda.”
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