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BEST objects to America’s Cup plans

A graphic model of what the America's Cup event village could look like.

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce has appealed against planning approval for projects linked to the 35th America’s Cup.

According to a statement, BEST are objecting to 11 acres of landfill in the South Basin at Dockyard, which is intended to house the hub of the 2017 event and later the Department of Marine and Ports.

However BEST president Stuart Hayward said the concerns could be addressed with a minimal delay to the America’s Cup aspects of the project.

“The appeal is against all three parts of the proposal, the landfill, the interim uses for the land-filled site, and the end uses for the land-filled site,” he said.

“The first two parts could, with a little effort, meet acceptable environmental and procedural standards and BEST has pledged to work with ACBDA to expedite resolution of the outstanding issues for the landfill and interim uses.

“However the third part — the proposed end uses — is untested. Essentially Wedco wants to convert protected marine habitat into an industrial wasteland. Wedco promised public meetings but that hasn’t happened, so the public isn’t adequately informed nor has their input been properly sought.

“Wedco has not presented a tested case for the end uses. In any case, those end uses are not required until AC35 departs in 2017 or later. Therefore, there should be proper public consultation about the end uses and an independently vetted EIA should be conducted, and that part of the application should be resubmitted to the DAB.

“Our appeal is now before the Minister and we call on him to do the right thing for the people of Bermuda, our environment and our future.”

Mr Hayward said the organisation have listed six grounds of appeal, including that the environmental impact study (EIS) was flawed and the Department of Planning failed to convey certain information to the Development Applications Board (DAB), who granted final approval for the project.

He said the department did not include key recommendations from Bermuda Environmental Consulting, the applicant’s designated environmental consultants, or the concerns of government agency consultants including the Departments of Conservation Services and Environmental Protection.

“Of greater concern in this project is that the fill being dredged for the development is not part of the application,” he stated. “Over 368,000 cubic meters of fill will be required, most of it will be dredged from the south channel, from Shelly Bay to Grassy Bay, without adequate environmental impact assessment.

“These grounds of appeal point to serious flaws in a development is huge, complex and important — especially to the America’s Cup, which BEST supports wholeheartedly. The America’s Cup is depending on the landfilled acreage on which to build their event village.

“Unfortunately, Wedco’s end use plans, which are not needed for the America’s Cup event itself and can’t be realised until after they abandon the site, were piggybacked on to the landfill and received final approval that should have been denied.

We alerted ACBDA and the DOP that this was a problem but the application was pushed through anyway.

“Bermuda should be at the forefront in protecting its own environment. This decision is a betrayal of that obligation to the people of Bermuda. BEST had hoped to head off delays to the America’s Cup preparation and a public battle. Early talks with ACBDA’s leader Mike Winfield were encouraging, however Wedco’s insistence on linking their insufficiently assessed long term or end use plans to the America’s Cup has resulted in this impasse.”