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BEST concerned over valuable resource damage

A plan to build an entrance road over farmland to a new luxury resort has been branded a waste of scarce resources by an environmental charity.

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce said it was disappointed that its Supreme Court appeal against the decision to give the road the green light had failed.

BEST went to court after Sylvan Richards, then the environment minister, backed the plan for the new entranceway from Middle Road in Sandys to the resort, built on the former military base at Morgan's Point.

BEST said: “We objected to the plan by Caroline Bay to expand what was a farm-tractor access path through the middle of one of the largest actively farmed plots on the island into a grandiose entranceway for its luxury hotel and condo complex.

“BEST took the issue on in the public interest of preserving and protecting Bermuda's dwindling stock of farmland.”

Developers Caroline Bay first applied to build the road in 2015, but the plan was rejected by the Development Applications Board.

A revised plan, however, was approved on appeal to Mr Richards, environment minister in the former One Bermuda Alliance government.

BEST argued in the Supreme Court that Mr Richards had acted beyond his powers, but was unsuccessful.

The charity said: “The threat to the agricultural plot goes against Government's own 2016 crop strategy and against a report on the role of agriculture in Bermuda's Future produced in 2010 for the Environmental Coalition.

“At first, Caroline Bay's argument for building this roadway was that they needed a grand entranceway to match the luxury of the hotel.

“Our response was, in essence, that with the surfeit of land, freehold and leased, plus the 15.5 acres of prime waterfront, they had more than enough land to build a grand entrance without having to ruin a precious agricultural plot outside of their holdings.”

The charity said it was unfair for Caroline Bay to “usurp” land outside of their holdings after benefiting from a land-swap and a government cleanup of their property.

BEST also argued that, given the size of the development, a comprehensive environmental impact assessment should have been carried out.

BEST said: “Caroline Bay argued that it is enough to do piecemeal assessments or studies on subsets of the development as they are slated for construction and they have been allowed to do this despite arguing that they need the grand roadway now, even though it won't be needed until Phase 2 of the proposed development.”

BEST added that despite the ruling, they felt “validated” by comments made by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley about the work the charity had done to ensure scrutiny of planning applications.

The Caroline Bay developers declined to comment.

Caroline Bay under construction (photograph provided)

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Published January 24, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated January 24, 2018 at 7:36 am)

BEST concerned over valuable resource damage

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