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Piecemeal destruction of open spaces needs to stop

Dear Sir,

The controversial site at Shark Hole off Harrington Sound Road (Photograph supplied by the Bermuda Audubon Society)

I winced when I saw the recent photograph of the land clearing at Harrington Sound. Obviously, houses are built all over Bermuda and there are many more there than when I lived on the island; and more again than when my late friend arrived on the island in the 1930s. Yet still my heart sank at the image of a bulldozer scarring the cliff hillside, framed by green vegetation and the beautiful Bermuda blue sea.

Apart from the appalling state of race relations of that era, I confess I should have liked to have seen the islands prior to the advent of motor cars en masse. When, as my old friend put it, he was late to a party because “the horse had cast a shoe”. Doubtless this sounds to many quaint. And, perhaps paradoxically, my friend lived in a lovely Bermuda cottage on Harrington Sound. I stayed there once and it was delightful. Having admitted this, perhaps I should endorse the idea of more “sensitive” buildings along Bermuda’s more attractive — and thus expensive — water frontages. But I agree with the excellent op-ed article from Janice Hetzel, president of the Bermuda Audubon Society, and others such as David Wingate, who have raised serious and thoughtful objections to the implications of so-called special development orders on the Bermuda natural environment. These SDOs are surely politicians playing jiggery pokery with environmental protection clauses. It is dodgy behaviour and suspect.

It is not only Bermuda that is experiencing similar activities that are harming the environment. Australia has just released a report of the species now lost to the island continent and general environmental degradation as a result of human activity. This was suppressed by the outgoing Federal Government before the last election. Funny that.

Australia now leads the world, we are told, for loss of endemic species: the so-called emblematic and unique creatures — koala, platypus, etc — all threatened species now! Not to mention such natural assets as the Great Barrier Reef. There is insensitive mining and gas fracking, etc.

Where I now live, in Byron Bay, we see similar activities by people in official places, developers who machinate to achieve their ends. A classic example is that Byron Bay instituted building-height restrictions in an attempt to avoid the building of multistorey high rises. They were concerned the town not end up looking like the Gold Coast, where at places like Surfer’s Paradise a conscious effort was made to try to emulate the kind of buildings we see in Miami and other parts of Florida. This in the 1960s. However, we now see the nibbling away at these “restrictions” by developers. Much the way the sea is gnawing and eroding the coastline here — something we are warned will grow more so, owing to global warming and sea level rises.

There are examples I could name that occur in England, where so-called listed areas of outstanding natural beauty are not seen as such by local governments when there are profits on the horizon.

As the Royal Gazette article letter points out, there is much political behaviour that deserves close attention, but it is often difficult to regulate or have much control over. As we find regularly here. Especially when so many development-favourable decisions are awarded in land and environments courts and other “planning bodies”, which often seem to be just government-friendly.

I think the article “Travesty of land use in Bermuda” is worthy of close attention. As the writer observes, piecemeal destruction of our protected open spaces needs to stop.

I heartily concur with her statement, “Bermuda is an attractive tourist destination in large part because of our lush natural beauty. Why would we ruin it with over development?”


Byron Bay, New South Wales


(Former science/music teacher at Purvis Primary)

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Published August 01, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated July 31, 2022 at 1:18 pm)

Piecemeal destruction of open spaces needs to stop

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