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Burch defends Hollis conservation role

New job: ATV organiser Shane Hollis given National Parks Commission role (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The appointment of one of the men behind a controversial quad bike business to a conservation body is not a conflict of interest, a minister said yesterday.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch was speaking as a new coalition opposed to the ATV tour plan on the Railway Trail was being organised.

Colonel Burch, Minister of Public Works, said people critical of the appointment of Shane Hollis to the National Parks Commission should “actually read the Act”.

He added: “I operate within the law. I am allowed to appoint two people to the commission who are users of the trail.

“Shane Hollis certainly falls into that category and that’s why he was appointed.”

Mr Hollis was made a member of the commission by Colonel Burch last month.

The appointment came on the same day Colonel Burch announced in the House of Assembly that permission had been granted to Mr Hollis’s business to operate all-terrain vehicle tours in the West End.

Hundreds of members of the public objected to the plan.

Mr Hollis’s appointment to the advisory body was criticised by island environmental groups.

Colonel Burch said Mr Hollis having a seat on the board did not represent a conflict.

He added: “I think I still appoint people to the commission who lied to this country and have yet to apologise to the people of this country in regards to Grand Atlantic falling into South Shore.”

A group called Protect Our Parks said yesterday it had started a petition against the tours.

The coalition is made up of organisations that include the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, Bermuda National Trust, Greenrock, and The Heydon Trust.

The coalition said that “innovative ideas” for tourism should be encouraged, but should not cause “erosion of the quality of life for Bermuda’s residents”.

Protect Our Parks added that the “railway trails and parks are for peaceful enjoyment of residents” and asked the public to sign the petition “as an expression of support for our right to protect those amenities”.

Petition sheets are available at the J&J Produce stand in Devonshire, Amaral Farms stand in Devonshire, Windy Bank Farm in Smith’s, and Wadson’s Home Farm Market in Southampton.

Protect Our Parks added it continued to investigate whether all the necessary permissions were granted for the quad bike tours.