Senate approves ATV tours
Senators gave their approval for the introduction of ATV tours in the West End.
The proposal — which has drawn criticism from environmental groups — garnered support from One Bermuda Alliance senators on Wednesday.
But James Jardine, independent senator, voiced concerns about the tour travelling through Hog Bay Park and Heydon Trust properties.
He told senators he did not want to see the quiet of the Heydon Trust property disturbed, and he was concerned about the affect the vehicles would have on the narrow paths of Hog Bay.
Mr Jardine suggested the tours bypass the Heydon Trust and stop at the Hog Bay car park, with a walk through the park instead of a ride.
He said: “Let’s try to find a compromise that works for all.”
Mr Jardine said he would like to see a “right of way” for use of the Railway Trail formalised before the tours begin.
Kathy Simmons, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, said the Railway Trail crosses through both the Heydon Trust and Hog Bay, and the tours would not be allowed on the narrow walking trails.
Robyn Swan, OBA senator, said the Opposition supported the legislation as it would be a new attraction for visitors and could lead to further entrepreneurial innovation.
She said the legislation limited the hours of the tours to between 10am and 4pm, Monday through Friday, and kept the vehicles off “virgin land”.
Vance Campbell, Progressive Labour Party senator, added the tours would introduce visitors to areas of the island they don’t usually see.
He said the island needs to strike the right balance between the protection of the island’s open spaces and creation of opportunities.
Mr Campbell said: “We have to become a country that says yes.”
The Bermuda National Trust, who had voiced opposition to the suggestion, said they were disappointed to see the Bill pass in the Senate.
Bill Zuill, executive director of the BNT, said: “We do recognise and appreciate that the Government has taken on board some of the concerns that have been expressed.
“However, we continue to be gravely concerned about the use of ATVs in Hog Bay Park where the trails and tracks are not paved and are highly vulnerable to motorised vehicles.
“We also believe this will inevitably set a precedent for similar tours elsewhere on the Island using the Railway Trail and the Island’s parks. Indeed we have already heard reports of plans for similar tours.”
Mr Zuill said the charity was also concerned that Government had “effectively ignored” the overwhelming objections from members of the public.
He added: “We do recognise the need for entrepreneurs to be given opportunities and we have always supported innovative tourism. However, we still believe the harmful effects of these tours outweigh the benefits.
“We also strongly believe that great care has to be taken with Bermuda’s natural beauty, which is an enormous part of Bermuda’s tourism branding and appeal.”
“This did not happen by accident but because of careful and responsible stewardship.”
Mr Zuill said Mr Jardine’s suggestion that the Hog Bay portion of the tour should be done on foot was “sensible” and should be considered.