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Neighbours call for lawsuit against Belco

An elderly couple has asked neighbours to join a class-action lawsuit against Bermuda's power company over the “monstrosity” across the road.

Arthur and Sharon Riviere's two-storey home on St John's Road, Pembroke, their home since 1982, now looks on to the towering chimney and engine houses of Belco's North Power Station.

The couple claimed representatives from the utility company had downplayed the scale of the development in a 2018 visit to their home at the bottom of Berkeley Hill. Mrs Riviere, 74, said: “The engineer showed me drawings and it showed the tower, but it didn't show any of this monstrosity.”

Mrs Riviere added: “When I figured out what was happening, I started talking to everybody trying to figure out how to stop it.”

Ascendant Group, the parent company of Belco, were given permission to build the new power station in 2011 to help meet the island's demand for electricity.

The Department of Planning admitted in a 2018 report that the development would have “potentially significant visual impact implications for the broader surrounding area”.

But planners said the buildings would be on an already industrial site which was “nationally critical”.

An Ascendant spokesman said: “While we are sympathetic to the neighbouring properties and have done, and will continue to do, all we can to mitigate their concerns, this project is essential to secure our energy future for the benefit of the entire country.”

Ms Riviere said the couple had “always had noise and vibrations” from the present power plant which had created cracks in their walls and ceilings.

But she said: “When I found out about the huge stack and power plant, I was shocked.

“I just never foresaw they would build anything like this in this community, right smack on the road. I can't believe we have allowed this to happen.”

Ms Riviere said they had been given an estimate from a real estate agent that their home could be devalued by as much as 40 per cent as a result of the Belco construction. “That means it's hitting my pocketbook and my inheritance to my children. We will launch a class-action law suit.”

She said: “I can't knock it down, but I can get compensation.”

She said many of the homes nearby were rented and asked the property owners to join the suit by e-mailing the couple at sharthurbda@gmail.com.

The Ascendant spokesman said the new power plant was in line with the Integrated Resource Plan, and the new generators represented “our commitment to building a foundation for the future”.

He said the North Power Station was still under construction and the site would be landscaped with native trees and bushes after it was completed.

He added: “Once the NPS has been commissioned, and subject to approval by the Regulatory Authority, several old engines will be decommissioned, which will result in a significant reduction in noise, vibrations and emissions associated with the plant.”

Mr Riviere, 79, retired last year as part-owner of Bull's Head Car Wash and the business was put up for sale. The couple earlier owned the Wok Chinese Restaurant in Hamilton.

Art and Sharon Riviere outside their home at St John's Road, Pembroke (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

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Published January 28, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated January 28, 2020 at 6:40 am)

Neighbours call for lawsuit against Belco

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