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Sifting plant gets go-ahead despite BNT objections

Empty lot on Marsh Lane, Devonshire (Photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

Plans to create a sifting plant next to a Devonshire nature reserve have been given the green light despite objections from environmental organisations.

The crushing and sifting plant, to be operated by Invisible Trenching, was proposed to create backfill material for retrenching work.

The Bermuda National Trust and others raised concerns about the location on Marsh Lane in Devonshire, which is adjacent to Devonshire Marsh.

But report by a technical officer, however ,recommended the application be approved.

“The crux of these objections is that the proposed use is inappropriate for this particular site, however, the site is zoned industrial and the Department of Environment and Natural resources has not raised any objections to the proposal,” the technical officer said.

“Also, the applicant has taken several steps to mitigate the possible effects of this proposal on the Nature Reserve which this Department feels is an acceptable compromise for the differing land uses.”

The technical officer’s report said the nature reserve would be enhanced with planting and other measures to create a firm distinction between the industrial land and the marsh.

He said: “This will be a great improvement to the existing on-site conditions and result in a closer alignment with the zoning.”

The technical officer also highlighted that only 2 per cent of the island is zoned for industrial use.

“Of that 2 per cent, 17.88 acres split between six sites is restricted to light industrial,” he added.

“The remaining heavy industrial sites are operating at an occupancy rate of over 80 per cent with little room for expansion.

“This means that there are very few locations for this kind of development, which is essential for the construction industry.”

According to the minutes of the March 31 meeting of the Development Applications Board, board members remained concerned about the potential environmental impact despite the technical officer’s recommendations.

The minutes said: “The board queried which measures are to be put in place to prevent processed material from blowing into the adjacent nature reserve.

“Technical officers advised that there would inevitably be some such impact on the nature reserve, however the Terrestrial Conservation section of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has confirmed its satisfaction of the proposal.

“Technical officers further noted that the proposal constitutes 'controlled plant' and, as such, would require an operating licence which would include specific mitigation measures to minimise dust and other sources of pollution.”

The technical officer however agreed that the Board could require additional mitigation efforts as part of its approval requirements.

The board agreed to require a dust mitigation plan – including a physical barrier to prevent spillage into the neighbouring nature reserve.

The plan must be reviewed by the DENR, and measures must be put in place before a Certificate of Completion and Occupancy is approved.

Kip Froud, of Invisible Trenching, submitted the plans in January and said that the project was intended to produce backfill for the ongoing retrenching effort on Harrington Sound Road.

Myles Darrell, conservation officer for the Bermuda National Trust, however urged that an environmental impact assessment be carried out before any development can take place.

He also raised concerns about noise pollution, dust production and the effects of more heavy traffic on Marsh Lane.

In a letter of response, an agent for the developer said damaged fencing separating the land from the reserve would be replaced, Oleander hedging would be planted and a trough and berm were proposed to address the risk of run-off.

The agent added that the land was zoned for industrial use, and the proposal did not include anything outside of what is allowed for the site.

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Published April 09, 2021 at 7:57 am (Updated April 09, 2021 at 7:45 am)

Sifting plant gets go-ahead despite BNT objections

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