Guided tour vehicles legislation sent back to House by Senate
An amendment designed to ban three and four-wheeled vehicles used for guided tours from national parks was backed by the Senate yesterday.
The move by Marcus Jones, an Opposition senator, came as the Upper House debated the Motor Car (Liveries) Act, which was drawn up to increase the types of vehicles that could be used by tour operators.
The legislation will now be sent back to the House of Assembly for further consideration by MPs.
The Act was designed to allow the use of three-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles for tours.
But safety and environmental concerns were raised by senators.
John Wight, an independent, said he was worried the that the decision to allow the vehicles into protected areas could be made by “one or two ministers”.
Mr Wight added: “We need to ensure the decision of one minister won’t affect the enjoyment of thousands of Bermudians who find solace in these areas.”
He highlighted a consultation from 2018 that found only two people supported a controversial plan for ATV tours in the West End against 400 who opposed the proposal.
Mr Jones said: “There needs to be a broader debate on usage in general.
“Bermuda is very small – there is a limited amount of free, open land where you can operate these vehicles.
“We need to ensure we are not infringing on people’s peace and tranquillity.”
Michelle Simmons, the Senate vice-president, raised safety concerns about the type of three-wheeled vehicles the legislation could allow and said more detail was needed on the definition of a guided tour vehicle.
Mr Jones proposed an amendment that would ban the vehicles from national parks.
Ernest Peets, the Government Leader in the Senate, said the legislation was similar to existing rules that governed jet ski tours.
He added: “If we can do this on the water and do it properly, we can do so on land.”
Owen Darrell, the junior Cabinet Office minister, accused the Opposition of being “purposely misleading” and “harping unnecessarily on the issue of public parks”.
Curtis Richardson, the junior transport minister, added: “This is not about someone who owns a guided tour vehicle, freely and without licensing and approval, to run these vehicles up and down the dunes at Horseshoe Bay Beach and grassy areas in national parks.”
He said: “Tour licences will be very specific.”
Mr Jones’ amendment was approved by six votes to five.
Mr Wight, Joan Dillas-Wright, the Senate president, and Ms Simmons joined forces with the three OBA senators.
A motion by Dr Peets to rise and report progress and ask for leave for the Senate to sit again was voted down six votes to five.