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BEST support Ombudsman’s Tucker’s Point SDO concerns

Concerns expressed by the Ombudsman in a report on the Tucker’s Point Special Development Order were well-founded, according to Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce.

Arlene Brock’s recent report echoed statements made by his organisation, BEST chairman Stuart Hayward said.

“Her investigation has clearly highlighted what we have said all along. The final decision to grant the Tucker’s Point SDO was made based on incomplete information, without due process and input from all parties concerned, and absent of the required conventions.”

Government should have ensured an environmental impact assessment was carried out on the site prior to granting the SDO, Mr Hayward added.

“There should be procedures and parameters for what information should be given to the legislature for future SDOs.”

Ms Brock released Today’s Choice: Tomorrow’s Costs last month, detailing the process and scope of analysis of the SDO at the Hamilton Parish resort.

The report found that Government had acted unlawfully by failing to conduct an EIA on the impact of developing the site before legislators were asked to decide whether an order should be granted.

Ms Brock described the move as a “collective failure of due diligence” on the part of civil servants, who did not review the applicable law and did not seek to apply international best practices.

Environment Minister Marc Bean has previously called Ms Brock’s decision to investigate the matter “peculiar”.

Mr Hayward argued the investigation was in the public interest due to concerns about the environmental impact of the development.

“Those impacts must be anticipated and mitigated and, when they are not, administrative actions must be questioned,” Mr Hayward said.

“Having agreed to abide by this international convention agreement, the Bermuda Government failed in its duty by approving this SDO without first conducting an [EIA] contrary to its self-imposed obligation.”

The information revealed in the report did not come as a surprise to BEST, he added.

“At the outset, BEST had stated that without the proper studies and environmental assessments the decisions made would be uninformed.

“While Government passed legislation that requires SDOs to be approved by the legislature and not a minister, BEST still has concerns that without well-defined standards for the future process and scope of analysis of SDOs, and proper application of those standards, SDO decisions may be less informed after the legislation than before.

“In addition, Government’s ability to push an SDO through both houses of the legislature raises concerns and questions about whether a government’s duty is to the people of Bermuda or to special interests.”

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Published March 22, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 22, 2012 at 9:36 am)

BEST support Ombudsman’s Tucker’s Point SDO concerns

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