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Planning regulations are there for enforcing

Sting in the tail: Walter Roban let off Tucker’s Point landowner with a slap on the wrist (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Dear Sir,

A landowner cuts down a swath of protected nature reserve, including mature and dense native and endemic species, to create a “viewing corridor” to the sea. Against the decision of the Development Applications Board and the recommendation of the Director of Planning, the minister responsible for the environment allows him to get away with just a stern warning not to do it again. What kind of message does this send to other landowners who would seek to remove “inconvenient” areas of nature reserve or protected woodland on their property?

The Bermuda National Trust is extremely disappointed that the minister has allowed the retroactive application for “remediation of unauthorised woodland clearance” at Lot 9 Tucker’s Point.

In this case, the minister recognised that there had been “blatant disregard” for the nature reserve and its ecological significance. Nonetheless, he chose to agree with the landowner and his agents that the Band-Aid offer to replant a larger area of adjacent land with natives and endemics is sufficient recompense for the destruction of existing and irreplaceable mature woodland.

The BNT agrees with the Director of Planning that allowing the landowner to simply replant in another area with saplings in pots of three to five gallons is not an adequate response to the gross misconduct and overall destruction of protected habitat supporting a variety of life.

It will take up to 50 years for a fully mature woodland to become established if it happens at all. As the BNT knows only too well, it takes an enormous amount of effort, time and resources to nurture a freshly planted site of saplings into a mature forest. Typically, up to a third of new native and endemic plantings will be lost to summer drought in the early years and without constant care, the remaining saplings are quickly overwhelmed by invasives and fail to thrive. Is the landowner required to commit to constant and intensive care of the “replacement” 2,000 square feet of plantings for the next 25 to 30 years?

We have existing planning regulations in place to protect nature reserves, and the option of significant penalties for those who deliberately flout the planning process. For the good of Bermuda, the planning department should be allowed to get on with enforcing those regulations and imposing penalties without political interference.


Executive Director

Bermuda National Trust

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Published November 07, 2022 at 7:52 am (Updated November 07, 2022 at 7:52 am)

Planning regulations are there for enforcing

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