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America’s Cup dispute set for court

Stuart Hayward

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce will go to court to challenge plans to develop the South Basin in preparation for the America’s Cup.

BEST maintains it is fully behind the 2017 sporting spectacle and that the group had tried to fulfil its obligations with minimum disruption to the event.

But chairman Stuart Hayward said it would be “negligent” for the group not to act against aspects of the development, which he said violated standards of best practice.

“We have met several times with ACBDA head Mike Winfield and or members of his team and have jointly attempted to reach resolution on those portions of the application that directly affect the America’s Cup organisation,” Mr Hayward said. “Unfortunately those attempts were not successful.”

BEST claims that environmental impact studies conducted for the 11-acre landfill and development of the South Basin are inadequate and flawed.

Mr Hayward said: “At the heart of the dispute is the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) conducted for the project that was found to be critically flawed, so much so that ACBDA sponsored an emergency addendum EIS just a few days before the application was to be vetted.

“However, this emergency EIS categorically only covered the landfill, a mere one third of the project’s components.

“The interim uses of the landfill — to house the America’s Cup event village until AC35 departs — and the end-uses of the landfill — a commercial boatyard, consolidate Marine and Ports operations and a marina for luxury yachts — were categorically not covered by the emergency addendum EIS and inadequately covered by the original EIS.

“That state of affairs is unacceptable.”

BEST had previously appealed against the decision of the Development Applications Board (DAB) to grant approval for the proposed reclamation on the Dockyard site.

Planning inspector Mark Hornell recommended that the DAB’s original decision should be upheld and this was then approved by Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs.

Mr Hornell stated: “The Board’s decision to approve the filling of 11.1 acres of South Basin and the end-uses, even if not made clear in either the Board report or the minutes, is moot: the decision was already made by virtue of Parliament’s approval of July 18, 2014, under the Land Reclamation Act 1964.”

BEST has called on the public to back its challenge and said there was still time for a proper and full assessment of proposed end uses of the landfilled site.

Mr Hayward said: “The interim- use as the event village for AC35 also needs some level of assessment for all that will be required to accommodate the transport, entertainment and waste of the anticipated throngs of people who will be wooed to use the space to enjoy the AC35 activities.

“AC34 held in San Francisco in 2012 proceeded under the banner of several environmental oversight regimes. Does Bermuda deserve any less? We think not. AC34 prides itself as the first carbon-free America’s Cup.

“Should the America’s Cup environmental reputation be tarnished because Bermuda won’t do its due diligence? We should hope not.

“We invite the Government to show the AC35 sponsors and participants that we care no less about Bermuda than the city managers cared about San Francisco for AC34.

“We encourage the sailors and managers of AC35 to intervene if necessary to ensure that their legacy reputation in Bermuda equals or surpasses what they achieved in San Francisco.

“Further, as it relates to both the interim and end-uses for this new landfilled area, we urge the Bermuda public to insist that existing protections for our environment be upheld, not sidestepped.”