Plan emphasises protection of conserved land
Most of the rezoning proposals sent as part of the development of a draft Bermuda Plan want the removal of conservation protections, it has been revealed.
The Department of Planning said more than 200 rezoning proposals were received as part of the consultation process and 177 of them dealt with protected areas.
The Draft Bermuda Plan 2018 review and strategy report, released with the draft Bermuda Plan on Monday, said: “Of the 208 requests, 177, or 85 per cent of them, involved the rezoning of conservation land.
“A few of these requests involved the swapping of areas to be zoned for conservation with no net loss of conservation land but the majority requested the complete or partial removal of conservation land.”
The report said that the department's approach to the requests was to not support the removal of conservation zones unless there was good reason.
Examples included if a building has already been built in the area with planning permission or if the conservation zone was replaced with a similar-sized or larger zone on a reasonable location on the site.
The report said Riddell's Bay was the subject of one of the most significant rezoning requests, which proposed changing 22 acres for recreational conservation zone to residential and changing another 70 acres to nature reserve, park, open space and recreation zones.
Another request suggested the creation of a new “coastal residential zone”, which would allow further development of homes by the sea and on small islands.
Coastal reserve zones were introduced in 2008 to protect coastal areas and small islands, which are vulnerable to flooding and erosion, and to preserve the natural beauty of the areas.
The report said: “The Bermuda Plan 2008 permitted the development of recreational cottages in coastal reserve areas, but this policy has proved difficult to enforce and restricts use of these cottages for recreational uses only.
“As such, this policy has been removed from the new plan. The new plan will continue to allow only limited development in these vulnerable areas.”
Sixty-eight requests involved the removal of agricultural reserve zoning.
The submissions said some land had not been used as farmland for a prolonged period, the owner wanted to build on the land or the area was not suitable for farming.
The report said 738 acres of land are reserved for agricultural use, but only about half is used.
The report said the Government had developed a crop strategy to help to reduce Bermuda's dependence on imported produce through an increase in domestic production.
The report added: “It is hoped that this will lead to a healthier and more food-secure community where healthy fresh fruits and vegetables are more accessible to everyone and where communities are encouraged to grow their own food.”
The report said the Bermuda National Trust and the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce reviewed the rezoning requests and submitted their own views.
It added: “These included the need for the new Bermuda Plan to retain existing conservation lands, retain coastal reserve zoned areas and require the replacement of any conservation areas that are developed.
“It was also suggested that the Department should require greater setbacks for industrial sites located next to conservation areas.”
The report also highlighted a 2008 report by the National Trust that warned of the threat of climate change.
It said strategies included in the Bermuda Plan are intended to mitigate the risks caused by rising sea levels by limiting coastal development and encouraging “green” infrastructure.