Government hits back over ‘desecration’ of waterfront
The Government has pushed back at allegations that it is rubber-stamping the development of environmentally sensitive land, insisting that safeguards are in place to ensure the public is consulted on any development before the bulldozers move in.
In a statement on Friday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs, said that laws that came into effect earlier this month would “ensure openness and transparency” to Special Development Orders.
Earlier this week, the Bermuda National Trust said that the public needed to protest against “ the desecration of Bermuda’s remaining open spaces”.
The call by BNT executive director Karen Border, was made after work began to clear a site on Harrington Sound Road for a four-bedroom house on an area that used to be protected as coastal reserve.
The site, overlooking Harrington Sound near Shark Hole in Hamilton Parish, was rezoned as residential through the Tucker’s Point special development order more than ten years ago.
Ms Border told The Royal Gazette: “Prior to the granting of the 2011 Tucker’s Point SDO, this land was zoned as coastal reserve with additional protection as a cave protection area and water resources protection area.
“The SDO removed those protections and 11 years later we see the result.”
A government spokesman defended the decision.
He said: “The Government of Bermuda, and the Minister of Home Affairs in particular, are committed to achieving the best balance between investment, development and employment for Bermudians on the one hand and the need to preserve protected lands and the natural environment for the future benefit of all residents of and visitors to Bermuda.
“The Tucker's Point Resort Residential Development Special Development Order 2011 was approved in 2011, which gave in principle planning permission for residential development and draft subdivision approval associated with land owned by Castle Harbour Limited.”
The spokesman said that the lot was approved for development in April, 2014 under “a series of conditions”, planning permission was granted in September 2021, and a building permit was issued in May of this year.
The spokesman added: “Last year’s amendments to the Special Development Order legislation, which came into effect on July 1, 2022, were written with the aim of providing safeguards to assess the environmental impact of a proposed development and allow for public consultation.
“To this end, Environmental Impact Assessments will be required to be submitted prior to public consultation to ensure openness and transparency related to the process. This will apply to all future Special Development Orders.”