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SDO needs assessment

February 27, 2011

Dear Sir,

I have been following the recent discussions surrounding the request by Government for approval of a Special Development Order (SDO) for Tucker's Point. I am an Environmental Planner and am currently working at a consulting company in Canada, where I perform Environmental Impact Assessments for a range of projects. As an Environmental Planner and a Bermudian, I felt the need to provide some input.

I cannot fathom that a formal Environmental Impact Assessment would not be required for a development of this kind, especially in an area of such high ecological importance (including lands with Nature Conserve, Woodland Reserve and Coastal Conserve designations). Without going through a formal environmental assessment process, which should include conducting field work and collecting data in order to properly assess the potential effects which development may have on the area, it's impossible to set forth adequate mitigations to avoid or reduce predicted environmental effects. The Environment Minister has said that stringent conditions have been put in place to protect the land, but I wonder how one can possibly determine what conditions are best suited for such a project without first conducting, for example, vegetation, wildlife, soils/terrain and hydrogeological field studies of the area?

From what I understand, the area is dominated by steep and densely wooded hillsides and includes many caves and sink-holes. Most of Bermuda's remaining endangered endemic and native upland flora inhabits this area and the caves support numerous species of native and endemic marine invertebrates. Development would require deforestation as well as rock excavation. Subdividing the area into residential/hotel lots would fragment the land into numerous small units. Any time there is fragmentation, there is a loss of habitat, thereby decreasing biodiversity and possibly pushing endangered endemic species towards extinction. Bermuda is already highly developed. We should be placing high value on any existing green space. This island will become far less appealing for tourists and residents if development is allowed on areas of land such as this. This issue, however, is not just visual, as fragmentation of this land and the resulting loss of habitat and biodiversity could result in island wide impacts which could affect the health of Bermuda's ecosystem as a whole.

I understand the desire for HSBC to have its loan repaid and the desire for Bermuda Properties Ltd. to reduce its debt and further develop Tucker's Point; however, it is difficult to understand any justification for allowing development on one of Bermuda's last remaining woodland reserves, an area of high ecological importance to the island, without a proper environmental assessment.

According to the Department of Planning'S website: “The mission of the Department of Planning is to provide a high quality and equitable planning service, and to effectively manage the Island's built environment and natural resources in a way that best secures a sustainable level of development that meets the needs of the community. The Department is responsible for controlling and regulating the development of Bermuda's scarce land resources in order to ensure its optimum use. Closely related to this stewardship is also the responsibility to protect and preserve the Island's natural beauty by way of the development and implementation of policies related to the effective management of our natural resources.”

Approval of this SDO without a formal and independent environmental assessment would certainly not fit this mandate of promoting a sustainable level of development and ensuring effective management of our natural resources. I believe that any debate that does not include the findings from an environmental assessment is missing a vital piece of information and, as such, the Government should delay any decision on this issue until an assessment is completed and the full environmental impact of this development is known.

KRISTIAN JUULAGAINST THE SDORAYMOND RAY

Environmental Planner, B.Sc. (Honours)

Canada

SDO would be a mistake

February 21, 2011

Dear Sir,

The PLP Government banned Bermudians from selling their homes to foreigners so that land would be available for Bermudians. The PLP Government banned Bermudians married to non-Bermudians from owning more than one residence to ensure that there was land available for Bermudians. The PLP Government have continually stressed the importance of keeping foreign ownership of Bermuda's precious and limited land resource to the absolute minimum. Why then is the PLP Government proposing to issue an SDO to permit the sale and destruction of ecologically sensitive virgin woodland to yet more foreigners?

Where was the PLP Government when Pink Beach and Belmont-Newstead went into receivership? Both will now be sold at less than developed cost and the new owners will hopefully be able to afford to refurbish and/or promote them to the almost extinct air visitor and offer a quality vacation at a competitive price. This would see more long term employment of hospitality workers rather than short term construction employment. The Government should show the same level of support to Tuckers Point. So HSBC will lose a little money, tough. They did very well before the self inflicted banking crisis so I don't see why all of Bermuda and every Bermudian should pay because a private company overextended themselves. Business is business, some you win, some you lose.

Bermudians have seen the value of their homes reduced under the PLP Government because they cannot sell to non-Bermudians. What do the PLP think is going to happen to the already devalued Bermudian owned property and rental prices if more unnecessary homes are built and sold to foreigners? Bermudians should be again permitted to sell their homes valued above $1.5 million, and condominiums valued above $1.0 million to non-Bermudians before virgin land is despoiled for the benefit of foreign owned corporations. Think what would happen if exempt company CEO's and senior management were allowed to buy into Bermuda, where they wanted to live. They would bring their families, spend their income locally and if granted Permanent Resident Status, build-up their companies in a land where they were welcome and belonged. Jobs would be created. Even the Government would make a small fortune in property purchase taxes and then payroll tax.

The PLP Government have introduced some well meaning but very short-sighted policies and this SDO, after term limits, would be one of their worst mistakes. I have some sympathy for Ed Trippe, but not enough to destroy our last large virgin woodland to bail him and HSBC out.

Pembroke

Save open spaces

February 28, 2011

Dear Sir,

Allan Marshall's letter (February 19) which was referring to the Bermuda Government bailing out HSBC's bad loans to Tucker's Point hit the nail “headon” ... To be depriving not only this generation but future generations of the few remaining woodlands is totally ludicrous! Let's not change what's still visible and accessible not only to we locals, but also those who have been visiting us over the countless years, and truly believe in “Bermuda being another world”.

St. George's

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Published March 10, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 10, 2011 at 9:41 am)

SDO needs assessment

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