SDO debate delayed to Friday
Environmentalist Stuart Hayward believes recently unearthed details on Tucker's Point's finances could help swing the Senate's SDO vote in favour of protesters.
Speaking after it emerged the debate would take place on Friday instead of today Mr Hayward said Senators now have more facts at their disposal than MPs who passed the Special Development Order last month.
He said campaigners have been bombarding Senators with information in the hope all three Independents and all three United Bermuda Party representatives vote against it.
That would give the SDO six nays to outweigh the five votes in favour it is expected to get from Progressive Labour Party Senators, whose colleagues have said they've been under heavy pressure to give it the go-ahead.
But the Independents and UBP Senators have so far declined to say how they will vote.
Mr Hayward said Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott had written to protesters saying the debate would now take place on Friday; today's protest is delayed two days as a result.
“We have sent a piece to every Senator and made presentations to the Opposition and Independent Senators so we are sure that they are more informed than their Parliamentary colleagues,” Mr Hayward told
The Royal Gazette yesterday.
“We would anticipate a more informed decision because of some of the economic information that has surfaced since then about Tucker's Point.
“Also, I don't know how many of them might have visited the area prior to our walk-through. That got exposure.”
Tucker's Point wants to expand by creating 78 homes and 70 hotel rooms, in a move some say is vital for the Island's tourism product.
However, environmentalists complain it would destroy important wildlife habitats and descendants of families forcibly removed from Tucker's Town in the 1920s are also upset.
Since the SDO was passed by MPs, the dire state of Tucker's Point's finances have been highlighted, with one letter to shareholders from president Ed Trippe revealing it was losing more than $1 million a month from the start of 2009 through the end of August last year.
The company has said the development is important to secure the site's future.
If the SDO is rejected by the Senate, it's understood it could not be brought back in the same form, but another SDO could be drafted with alterations.
Independent Senator Joan Dillas-Wright said yesterday: “As with any bill, we have to do our due diligence and get as much information as we can.
“Obviously, this one is a highly critical one. There appears to be a wider national interest with a number of people on both sides of the fence.
“People are concerned and I think maybe this SDO is of paramount importance.”
Meanwhile Bermuda Hotel Association backed the plan, with a statement describing it as a “valuable part of Bermuda's tourism product”.
BHA said it has been assured Government's process would allow for close scrutiny, control and approval of the development to meet environmental concerns.
“It is in the interest of both Tucker's Point and the Government of Bermuda to ensure a beautiful natural habitat is preserved to benefit visitors, residential investors and Bermuda residents,” it said.
“Accordingly, the Bermuda Hotel Association is confident that Tucker's Point will continue to show good stewardship of their new development as they have done to date in creating the world class resort that exists today.”
Environment Minister Walter Roban and Government Senate leader David Burch did not reply to requests for comment on why the debate would not take place until Friday.
Useful websites: www.best.org.bm, www.vimeo.com/best, http://www.gopetition.com/petition/43111.html, www.tuckerspoint.com, www.gov.bm.