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|Winding Bay: Massive Excavation in South Eleuthera Raises Concern (Guardian)|
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|Posted by:||Sep 11th 2007, 07:50:07 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||By Lindsay Thompson, Bahamas Information Services
NASSAU, The Bahamas
Massive sand excavation taking place in Winding Bay, Eleuthera, has led to environmental concerns in that island, which is prone to extensive flooding and sea surges during hurricanes.
The issue was raised by Board of Directors of the Hotel Corporation and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon Brent Symonette during a tour of South Eleuthera on Saturday, September 8.
Deep and wide tyre track marks were evident of heavy equipment being used to dig and transport the sand and fill from the beach area. At one spot the sand dune had been dug out to the shoreline.
"This is not uncommon on Family Islands and on Eleuthera where in a number of other settlements like James Cistern, contractors have taken heavy equipment and dug out sand and other landfill material with no concern for the potential environmental problems," said Deputy Prime Minister Symonette, who is also responsible for the Hotel Corporation.
The Deputy Prime Minister said while he appreciates the need for sand for construction purposes, there are requirements in place to engage in such activity. He called on those responsible to seek the necessary permission to do so.
Mr. Symonette noted that other Eleuthera developers at Windermere, Powell Pointe and Cotton Bay took "tremendous" time to ensure the natural environment is preserved.
"This is where we want to go, to make sure that developments are environmentally sensitive," he added.
He said the Government aims to stop the assault on the environmental integrity of the country resulting from excavation of hills and back filling of wetlands, amongst other harmful practices.
Another goal, he said, is to enact legislation for the regulation and the provision of guideline for environmental impact assessments for all developers, and to plant sea oats and other indigenous plants to protect sand dunes and other fragile coastal zones.
The purpose of the tour, which began in Fresh Creek, Andros, on Friday, September 7, was to familiarise the newly-appointed Board of Directors of the Hotel Corporation with Government-owned properties and Crown lands being sought by potential investors.
"The entire trip was very educational for some board members it was their first time viewing that aspect of the Family Islands," Deputy Prime Minister Symonette said.
"We have a number of perspective developers who have expressed interest in the Lighthouse Club in Fresh Creek. Substantial work needs to be done to the Lighthouse property that needs substantial injection of capital, marketing and airlifts and a whole range of issues," he said. "We need to look at the two potential developers and whether it is financially feasible."
In Eleuthera, he said, a developer is interested in Half Sound, Winding Bay and Tarpum Bay, which together incorporate thousands of acres of land and indigenous plant life.
"So we have to balance whether we feel it should be given to one person, or more, or whether it shouldn't be done at all. And there is this whole question of the environmental impact on the development," Deputy Prime Minister Symonette said.
The Board of Directors is schedule to meet Friday, September 14, to review all proposals and submit its findings to Cabinet for final approval
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