Environment Ministry Responds to Dr Wingate

February 16, 2011

The Ministry of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy responded to claims made by Environmentalist David Wingate this week regarding the Tucker’s Point Special Development Order. Their full statement follows below:

In his statement to media Dr Wingate said that the proposed development would mean “total deforestation” on the densely wooded Paynter’s Hill and Quarry Hill areas.

This claim is unjustified and alarmist.

In fact, as the Ministry has already stated, a landscape principle of 40% endemics, 30% Natives, 20% non-invasive ornamentals and 10% of any combination of these will be applied to each proposed lot to be developed.

Furthermore, the majority of areas subject to this Order will require a Conservation Management Plan prepared on an area wide basis.

Dr. Wingate also raised concerns over possible disturbances to the cave systems stating: “The vast majority of these lots will be located on what is presently steep and densely wooded hillsides, guaranteeing that it will be impossible to develop them without deforestation and rock excavation to create level terraces for house foundations. A good portion of the land proposed for subdivision and sale or hotel expansion, specifically Paynter’s Hill and Quarry Hill, lies within the ancient Walsingham geologic formation which is riddled with caves and sink-holes and beautiful pinnacle rock formations on the surface. The caves and sinks pose major development restraints, vastly increasing the costs of building, but more importantly they are the repository of most of our remaining endangered endemic and native upland flora, including 17 of the 19 surviving yellow wood trees from Bermuda’s original virgin forest.”

The Ministry would like to be clear here that the SDO has gone to great lengths to avoid any disturbance to the cave systems in this area.

For example, as a condition of the SDO, any existing or newly discovered cave features on the proposed development sites will require a subterranean topographical survey be completed by a qualified cave survey specialist to geo-reference the cave voids for terrestrial development potential considerations. All mapped caves, cave features and new caves will require a minimum setback buffer of 30 feet for all structures and excavation.

Furthermore, all development must be designed with shallow tanks of minimum below existing grade depths of no greater than three-foot depth finished level and four-foot maximum excavation grade. No excavation will exceed four feet due to potential contact and impact with known or unknown cave systems and any required sewage trenching deeper than four feet must rely on test boreholes to demonstrate that such trenching works will not compromise an undiscovered cave.

Additionally, no development should utilize wells for water or deep sealed bore holes for sewage, other effluent or grey water disposal and all utility cables, including cable television relay cables, shall be placed underground, in trenching no deeper than 3 feet.

The Ministry would also like to stress that if the Order is approved by Parliament it only permits Tucker’s Point Club to make an application to develop land that the current zoning would not automatically permit. It does not automatically mean that it will be granted by the Development Applications Board (DAB).

The DAB will consider the results of the objective assessment of a host of environmental issues before making those decisions and the public will be able to comment further on the proposals prior to final approval being granted.

All final plans for development will be subject to normal public notification, public review, comment and appropriate objection.

The Ministry has gone to great efforts to ensure a balance between the protection of Bermuda’s environment through the stringent conditions attached to this SDO, and the enhancement of Bermuda’s social and economic conditions.

Copies of the SDO itself are available for public viewing at the House of Assembly. Once the Legislature has debated them, the Department of Planning can provide copies to any interested member of the public.

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Comments (66)

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  1. Truth says:

    ……alarmist. That is what the PLP said about Bob Richards when he warned about the economy. We all know how that went.

  2. Triangle Drifter says:

    Yep…it comes down to who are you going to believe? Who do you trust? Who has spent a lifetime protecting Bermuda’s enviroment? Who wants to cover the Island with concrete?

    “They paved paradise & put up a parking lot.”

  3. Call as it is says:

    NOT one of the PLP or anyone in the Environment Ministry have anywhere NEAR the Qualifications or Experience or Reputation that Dr.Wingate has.

    Choose who you want to believe folks…
    BUT…choose with care!

    • Spoil to the core says:

      I agree with Dr. Wingate but let’s not take our eyes off the real deceivers – Dunk, Pett,Croc, Barr, Gibs Rich-ards are they the trusted ones? The true believers of the BDA were all hoodwinked in by the force of the “alliance” and the descendants of, not, aunt haggers children. Don’t be deceived, power back at any cost is the mantra. This plan started some 3 years ago with all involved and now is execution time – lets see who all they will hang out to dry this time ’round.

  4. Spoil to the core says:

    @truth – alarmist? how about Michael Dunkley saying one day Government needs to show restraint and the next day saying that Government should make concessions for his rich golfing buddies i.e. newstead, tuckers point. MD shows us that he’s about the milk and $$$$$

    • Truth says:

      Does that in any way, make what I wrote irrelevant or incorrect? I don’t answer for Michael Dunkley. Do you disagree with what i wrote? Do you trust the PLP?

      • Spoil to the core says:

        Trusted BDA and now find out they are ubp wolves in sheep clothing. Don’t trust PLP nor UBP and Michael Dunkley.

        • LOL (original) says:

          What does this have to do with the subject take your propaganda else where. I believe David Windgate. Governement has lost all credibility.

          LOL

          • jason says:

            Its dosnt matter if YOU have lost credibility with the current Government. PLP will still be in power after the next election..Because people like you, are the minority HERE !!!

            • Tired of nonsense says:

              and white ppl are racist?

              bwahahahahahah

            • J Galt says:

              “A government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul.”

        • My two cents says:

          Then I guess you won’t be voting?

  5. Mike says:

    Bernews … could you please post the graphic of the proposed building sights up?

  6. Believe n Magic says:

    We are starting a new party to contest the next general election. We will run on truth, justice and equality = not lies and empty promises = education reforms = accountability = restraint spending – smaller government – – we can call ourselves One Bermuda Alliance for all living in Bermuda. Qualifications to join – don’t need to be Bermudian to join – don’t need to be RICH – don’t need to be Black, White, Portuguese or other – only need to be honest and true to thyself and country….

  7. what says:

    don’t need no more party – need good people

  8. Graeme Outerbridge says:

    Nice Fluff piece Minister but you are basically working with the developer to destroy one of the last pieces of Bermuda’s natural land environment. Wingate is on target…you are destroying Bermuda.

  9. Moojun says:

    Spin, spin, spin….

    “a landscape principle of 40% endemics, 30% Natives, 20% non-invasive ornamentals and 10% of any combination of these will be applied to each proposed lot to be developed.”

    Sounds great becuase it adds up to 100%. But what they don’t point out is that only 20% of each lot is subject to the landscape principles, the other 80% can be covered in concrete. And that ‘conveniently omitted’ fact makes the percentages of Endemics, Natives and Non-invasives laughably small, if not insignificant.

    Dear Minister; “My plant-pot is 40% endemic, 30% native and 20% non-invasive”, please may I have an SDO to build a 10 story apartment block now?

    Government, please wake up. We Bermudians are NOT stupid.

    • navin r johnson says:

      The Environment Ministry should be put in charge of the census as they seem to be able to count the percentages of trees needed..maybe they could also give us an idea of the unemployment statistics while they are at it…David Wingate who as dedicated his life to the protection of Bermuda and its environs or the opinion of a ministry full of political hacks? Now who do I believe?

  10. what says:

    calling all honest good people

  11. sandgrownan says:

    Spin and more spin. Yup, who to believe, a bunch of halfwits involved in the politics of self advancement or someone who has had a lifetime of experience dealing with environmental issues? Yeah, let me think.

    If you look back over the last 12 years or so, the PLP have been one long disaster for this island and its people. I despise the PLP and their idiot support for the mess they have created. Failures and incompetents.

    • Anthony DaTiger says:

      It is not the PLP’s fault. It’s de foreigners. Why cant u see. They come and take all de jobs. My boy is and accountant and the foreigners won’t hire him cause der scared he will rise up to take der job.

  12. Chris says:

    WOW another new low – how can ANYONE refute Dr Wingate’s experience in environmental protection? This government is so full of sh*t.

    STOP THE SDO – There’s obviously money in it for someone as they won’t even listen to the foremost expert in Bermuda Environmental sustainability. How dare they respond in such a condescending manner to his comments about what we all know is a terrible waste of land, environment and money.

  13. Triangle Drifter says:

    I don’t consider myself a great tree hugger but I do try to respect the enviroment. Spitting out all those nice percentages looks good to the ignorant who will believe what they want without question but, how do you replace thousands of years of an ecosystem on a piece of land, after it has been bulldozed clear of everything?

    Again, if you want to see how much the PLP cares about the enviroment take a look at the members own properties. Most are smothered & covered with concrete, built right to maximum allowable site coverage.

    Start by looking at Gombey House on Google Earth. The yard could be done with a nail clipper.

  14. Terry says:

    Wingate is in cahoots with the UBP.It’s all the “BDA’s” fault.

  15. Joe says:

    Peoples, let’s keep on track here. The issue is not about Dunkley or the PLP or the UBP or blacks and whites; it is about Bermuda and why this SDO has been granted. Is it beneficial to us in the long term? Is it being enacted as a result of a planned development policy to sustain our tourism product with an acknowledged minimum risk? We all know that no-one in any of the political parties really understands what’s going on here, and this response was written by a civil servant in the Dept. of Planning. What I don’t get is why we need this -units for sale to non Bermudians- when we are denying the right of Bermudian families to acquire land in their own country; why are we allowing foreign developers to build and sell to whomever, when we have denied locals that same opportunity?
    Clearly we do not need the hotel beds.
    BUT government gets income upfront; there are jobs; there are fees for friends; there is foreign exchange earnings; and all these things are good.
    What we lack is a plan -any kind of plan- by which these things can be measured, and therein lies our problem. And so to politics: none of our parties nor politicians have any kind of a plan for the future and so SDOs will be issued because there are people out there smarter than them bringing on the pressure.

  16. Letariatpro says:

    This just proves the PLP government will try to assassinate the character of anyone who gets in the way of their money making schemes.

    • Spoil to the Cure says:

      that is MD MO LETARIATPRO

      • Same ole Same ole says:

        Agree with spoil, its ok for them to assassinate our characters but we can’t touch theirs because according to MD and rest we can’t be trusted. But he and the BDA MPs have shown exactly who can be trusted? Did Craig C, know all this when he join in BDA? Agree also with – lets start our own independent party

  17. My two cents says:

    All I keep hearing them saying is that “we can’t let a five star hotel fail” News flash people IT HAS ALREADY FAILED!!! Therefore that isn’t even a logical statement! The government must truly think Bermudians are a bunch of idiots. I am convinced of this and no one will ever be able to convince me differently. They say some of the most ignorant things I have ever heard.

  18. Choir Boy says:

    Tell them to build on one of the several sites where you’ve knocked previous hotels down and left a horrible mess. That land is already ruined so we might as well re-use it. If we continue to trust you incompetent people – the next hotel might be on Nonsuch!!

  19. sandgrownan says:

    Interesting, that in the UK and government plan to “sell off” publically owned forests was met with resistance. Such was the outcry, that the government admitted it was wrong and abandoned the plan. See todfay’s Telegraph online.

    Can you imagine our “gevernment of the people” doing the same thing?

  20. Sarah says:

    If I started a petition against this SDO, would anyone sign? I realise this post might be overlooked now.
    It’s very depressing that the government is unwilling to listen to Dr. Wingate in the slightest. He’s, y’know, just a bit qualified to comment on this.

  21. De truth hurts says:

    Sarah, start a petition to block the BDA from joining the old guard Dunkley.

    • Sarah says:

      lol I wouldn’t touch that one.

      • De truth hurts who? says:

        I say we touch it and start up a new party – no BDA nor UPB mergeriters allowed! and do agree, all need to sign the petition against the sdo!!!!! but don’t let spill milk and others fool us again ever!

        • Sarah says:

          The problem is, I do see where they’re coming from with the merger, and we do need an opposition that poses a bit of a threat, and I can’t see another “homegrown” party doing that. It’s tricky.

          • De truth hurts who? says:

            just you wait and see – we won’t be part of the deception no plp no bda no ubp

          • De truth hurts who? says:

            isn’t that what you BDA folks said you were going to do? and now because MD wants power you are all on the band wagon? come on Sarah read between the lines – follow the milk, water and money

  22. no one knows for sure says:

    but it smells stink. the sdo needs to be stop! Wingate is telling the truth, but don’t belive the BDA/UBP didn’t plan to join before the split and whose is the common denominator MD

  23. RobbieM says:

    Follow the money…follow the money! Who are the Government’s Bankers – HSBC. Who are the Tucker’s Point Bankers – HSBC. Who has a lot at stake here – HSBC!

  24. SDO will hurt Bermudians says:

    If you think the SDO is bad for Bermuda, then you have to widen your audience of support by pointing out the direct economic harm that flows from granting the SDO. You can do this by adopting the economic reasons pointed out by BEST, as follows:

    The granting of the SDO will harm Bermudian homeowners

    By granting an SDO that adds another 78 homes to the supply of houses for sale in a falling real estate market, government will have caused house prices to fall even further, which means that not only will the houses built by TPR attract a lower price than similar houses presently on the market, but it also means that this increase in the supply of housing will likely cause a large number of other houses in Bermuda to fall in value.
    This obviously will hurt many Bermudians who are presently trying to sell their homes or merely hoping to keep their house prices above their mortgage debt so that the bank won’t force them into foreclosure. If you are thinking of selling your house or you are having trouble making your mortgage payments, be aware that the granting of this SDO will directly hurt you.

    The granting of the SDO will hurt tourism and the TPR workers

    Right now TPR has to charge very high room rates in order to cover its operating expenses and the interest it has to pay on its huge debt of more than $150 million. Unfortunately, as TPR has learned all too well, very high room rates result in very few tourists. But if the SDO were not granted and TPR were to go into receivership, something very interesting would happen. It’s called “creative destruction” and is a fundamental tenet of our capitalist system.

    The bank would put a receiver manager in place (as was recently done for Newstead Belmont) and the receiver manager would run the hotel while the bank searched for someone to buy the hotel. (It should be noted that the receiver manager would continue to keep the hotel operating during this period because it is much easier to sell a hotel that is operating than one that is dormant, particularly a new luxury hotel like TPR. Current staff will be needed to ensure the smooth continuation of operations.)

    In this economic environment, the purchase price for the hotel would be significantly less than the cost of building the hotel. (TPR has estimated the value of its hotel is $60 million). This would mean that the new purchaser would incur significantly less debt to buy the hotel than the present owners incurred to build the hotel, probably saving in the neighbourhood of $10 million a year in interest on that debt.

    That means that the new cost of running the hotel would be significantly less than before (the operating cost would be the same, but the interest on the debt would be roughly $10 million less) which would mean that the new owners could charge significantly lower room rates and still generate a profit. And lower room rates would mean even more tourists for Bermuda. Further, higher profits would give hotel workers a better chance of negotiatg higher wages.

    Since TPR could be going bankrupt anyway, granting the SDO is a waste of time

    If it is correct, as stated by TPR, that its losses have been so massive that TPR now owes more than $150 million and the hotel is worth at most only $60 million, then it makes no sense to be discussing the building of new houses and condos when, even with the most optimistic projections, the profit from building these new homes can only make a tiny dent in TPR’s massive debt outstanding. This means that TPR is going bankrupt anyway, so why is the government even considering granting an SDO?
    This is particularly worrisome when you realize that the granting of the SDO will harm Bermudian homeowners, harm tourism and harm those workers presently employed at TPR, as explained above.
    Government needs to end the madness of this harmful proposal so that we can concentrate on proposals that will help, rather than harm, Bermuda.

    • David E. Chapman says:

      To ‘SDO will hurt Bermudians’,

      Your statement is flawed from the outset as you incorrectly claim that the “granting of the SDO will cause direct harm.” The SDO only allows development in principle and yes while it most likely that the development is expected to go ahead, the extent of the development and its associated balance sheet will not be decided until the planning process has been successfully navigated. It is not the SDO that BEST seems to have a contention with but the development itself.

      In this regard,I find the BEST statement to contain innuendo and inaccuracies and in some places outright conjecture. It cannot be used as a basis for fact despite their influence on those that use the media as ‘bible extradonaire’. For example, the submission starts off by examining the business case of the Tucker’s Point Resort and comments on the loss/profit ratios of the business. BEST claims that building of the units will cause house prices to fall as a product of supply and demand. However, BEST conveniently does not point out that the Tucker’s Point units will be directed at extremely high net worth individuals and so those who will be seeking to buy these units will not be the same that will be buying in other parts of non-private estate Bermuda.

      As to the falling house prices, as a proponent of sustainability BEST should know that sustainable development is not a one size fits all panacea for any environmental, social or economic challenge. Indeed, it is more so about compromise and balance and if their prediction is right, one can just as easily quote that a fall in house prices will benefit some Bermudians who would like to get on the housing ladder. Either assumption is conjecture. Realistically, if supply and demand economics are strictly adhered to, the units that are to be developed would not increase the same market volume of those that the average Bermudian owns or is looking to own and thus these house prices should not be unduly affected by this development. BEST gives double-speak in this regard as they go on further to state that the land will be sold to foreigners, which will undoubtedly give additional protection to the local housing stock available and thus offer a check and balance to their assertion of an undue increase in housing volumes that will compete with locals.

      BEST goes on to talk about the concept of “creative destruction”, and in one breath implores that the developers should be allowed to carry out business practices with the freedom to fail in this instance, with the result being a hotel product put into receivership and thus made more affordable to tourists. Why is the same not so for their future proposed residential business model? What private businesses do amongst their individually contracted agreements is not the realm of outside interests who have no legal, moral or other rational connection! And suppose the TP residential models can be purchased and bought at the prices they are looking for – as a replacement in lieu, does BEST have some other scenario to equal the value to the collective Bermuda society of this venture (jobs, revenue, etc.) and if so are they willing to absorb the risk? Private enterprise is just that – private, and the government is not interfering with private enterprise as some have asserted as the land does not belong to the government, it belongs to Tucker’s Point. Government is only acting as a facilitator to allow businesses to take place. If Tucker’s Point and the companies associated with it go bankrupt or succeed than let them do so! What business is this of anyone unless they be share holders?

      Bermuda is not a communist or socialist society despite what some who would halt all progress that does not fit their particular way of thought may think.

      • SDO will hurt Bermudians says:

        Dear Mr. Chapman,
        To start, please know that I am not a member of BEST nor do I speak for them. I merely agree with their very logical arguments. In that vein, I respond to your comments.
        First, there is nothing flawed about the statement that “the granting of the SDO will cause direct harm.” In fact, just the announcement by government that it has granted the SDO in principle will have hurt property values because knowing that 78 more houses and condos are coming on the market will cause prospective buyers to rethink their price point. Bermuda prices have always commanded a high price because buyers know that the amount of land available for development is limited. By granting the SDO in principle, government has now changed the factors underlying that assumption. The approval by parliament of the SDO will further cause prospective buyers to rethink their price point downward and the actual building of these homes will further solidify downward pressures on market prices. Buyers are not fools. Every move by government that brings the supply of 78 houses closer to our an already falling market will have an adverse affect on house prices.
        Secondly, while it is likely that most of these houses and some of these condos will be bought by non-Bermudians, these 78 houses and condos will also be available to Bermudians and will be part of the supply of houses for sale in Bermuda. To argue, as you have done, that these expensive houses won’t affect the price of less expensive homes in Bermuda is as flawed as government’s argument of years ago that the increase in rents for high end houses won’t increase rents for middle and lower end housing. Complete poppycock. Rents throughout the market went sky high, and you can rest assured that housing prices in a falling market will feel the reverberations throughout all levels of the market if these 78 houses are added to supply.
        Finally, you have argued that BEST has been selective in its use of the concept “Creative Destruction.” This is nonsense. Creative destruction would work in both the case of TPR’s bankruptcy now as well as after the development of the proposed 78 houses and condos. But government’s granting of the SDO will only delay TPR’s bankruptcy (it has $150 million of debt and a $60 million hotel) and the cost of that delay is the adding of 78 new houses on environmentally protected land that will cause Bermudians to suffer a further erosion in their housing market and less tourists coming to the island, to say nothing of the environmental devastation that will hurt all Bermudians both today and tomorrow.
        Mr. Chapman, I understand that you wish to help your mother, LaVerne Furbert, in her quest to make the granting of this SDO sound like it is helping Bermuda. I applaud your loyalty. I just think that Bermuda would be much better off if this government were instead backing a proposal that was not so harmful to Bermudian homeowners, Bermuda tourism and the workers at TPR.

        • David E. Chapman says:

          Typical that you would imply that my motivation is to help my mother. I wonder out of all that I wrote what would lead you to that conclusion? Possibly it is a reflection of your mindset and the opinion you hold of people like me. How little people think of others and their capacity in Bermuda, especially in light of the fact that I hold a BSc in Marine and Environmental Science, a MSc in Environmental Analysis and Assessment and I am now in my third year of PhD research studying renewable energy in relation to sustainable development, which I am sure that you did not know considering your assertion. I know that is difficult for many in Bermuda to believe that there are Bermudians that have their own independent thinking, can articulate for themselves and are not unduly influenced by the media or political sway. For me your conjecture helps to qualify the intent of your above articulation and potentially your alignment on this particular issue.

          • SDO will hurt Bermudians says:

            Dear Mr. Chapman,

            I believe I owe you an apology.  I never intended to question your independent thinking or your integrity.  I naively thought that since it was you that raised the fact that your mother was a PLP senator and all of your arguments were in support of the PLP government granting the SDO, that you were simply doing what the PLP had asked you to do.  I stand corrected, and ask that you please return to conversation by addressing each of the points of my rebuttal of the objections you raised.  I’m sure that as a scientist you will agree that it is only by directly addressing the issues that we can have a meaningful dialogue.

  25. David E. Chapman says:

    I hold the utmost respect for Dr. David Wingate. His work as a champion of environmental conservation and natural history in Bermuda, and internationally, demands only the highest commendation and celebration. His experience and knowledge in regards to understanding the local natural environment is indeed unmatched and none would dare to claim otherwise. However, despite all of this, Dr. Wingate is only one of ~65,000 Bermudians that have both a concern and a vested interest in the island of Bermuda that we all call home and how it should be developed.

    There is so much to be said in response to the recent statements by BEST and by Dr. Wingate regarding this proposed development but space, time and distance does not allow. Despite my utmost respect for Dr. Wingate, I too found his comments regarding the Tucker’s Point residential development to be at some points disingenuous and on others, sensationalist. As we all know, in Bermuda open space is scarce but so is space for everything else including housing, food production, industrial activities and waste collection to name a few. We are a small island nation and this is no fault of anyone but a product of fate. As our society develops, there will have to be a compromise between the needs of each individual and their special interests. In reality, Dr. Wingate was being sensationalist when he spoke on the loss of open space in proportion to our land mass, making a comparison to Yellowstone National Park and the continental US. Why – because Bermuda is 1000% smaller than the continental US but with a population density of 1000 times more, so the demands for space to carry out business, residential and infrastructural activities is always going to be proportionality higher and the difficulty in achieving a balance with environmental sustainability that much greater.

    Bermuda is not the island of 1609 and the majority of local residents that are here did not ask to be here but were born here as children of their ancestors. Thus, the economic, social and environmental welfare of all these residents is important and we must do our best as a community to seek balance accordingly. I believe the SDO and its provisions actually goes a long way to helping to do this, especially in the face of today’s economical challenges. If one reads it carefully, one will only be able to acknowledge this especially in light of past complaints against its deployment by previous government administrations.

    It seems the real challenge for Dr. Wingate and special interests groups such as BEST is that land that is currently ‘green’ will now become ‘brown’. However, if the SDO is adhered to, including its conservation management plans, cave preservation orders and landscape principles, the ecological services that this land currently provides will be retained. It must be remembered that Bermuda’s development is governed by the Bermuda Development Plan. Anyone can view the zoning at http://www.planning.gov.bm. This being said, this area is already zoned for development, albeit in different classes (some open space/recreational, some residential and some tourist, etc.). That which is zoned open space, nature reserve or recreational will remain so under the proposed Tucker’s Point development plan as it is published currently. For the average Bermudian, the occupation of the land by foreign owners is no different than the occupation of the land as it stands today. I, nor my children or my family have ever had access to this land as it is private property so this claim to be an open space resource has limited “sell” when it comes to other people just like me. As long as the critical environments and the associated ecological services are not negated than development that will ultimately benefit my people is something I can support. Fortunately, the Bermuda Plan does have designated National Park and nature reserve spaces that the ordinary Bermudian can have access to and with the addition of Mangrove Lake as part of this Tuckers’s Point deal more is being added to this ‘green bank’. With future work by the government and groups such as BEST, the Bermuda National Trust, Save Open Spaces, Buy Back Bermuda, etc. hopefully this ‘green bank’ around the island can increase, with the important factor being that these green spaces are accessible to all not just a select few. Ideally, our efforts need to focus not only on increasing these types of green open spaces but also on creating access to our coastal zone which is disproportionately inaccessible to the vast majority of the local Bermuda community.

    It is my thought that groups like BEST should be more balanced in their purported concern for environmental sustainability and rather than have their much of their efforts directed toward targeting only the continual preservation of green areas that the general public does not have access to or the denial of economic activities by average Bermudians, that they should spend some effort on seeking how to improve the environmental sustainability of Bermudian communities from across the economic and social spectrum. Upon contemplation, what will groups like BEST say when an entrepreneur says they want to create, for example, an offshore wind farm – “…only if its on North Shore!” – then we will really see the dilemma in deciding whose sustainable development paradigm is acceptable to all. Only with compromise can the best interests of all be tended to as rationally and logistically possible.

    Some may claim that I have a conflict of interest as my mother is a serving PLP Senator and long time party supporter Ms. LaVerne Furbert. The distribution to local schools of children’s environmental book series that I author is also supported by HSBC. If this makes some uncomfortable in reading my views as my own, then so be it. I can genuinely say that neither of these issues have influenced my personal thoughts and my only conflict of interest is that I have my own mind with my own thoughts and accompanying expectations and desires for my community. I would encourage people to do what I did – read the SDO in full, look at the Tucker’s Point Development maps and study the Bermuda Plan. Place all of this in context to the social, economic and environmental factors involved and make one’s own value judgement. Too much is the media used as a swaying point to influence people’s opinion by those who have access to do so without these same persons doing their own independent research before forming a value judgement.

    • SDO will hurt Bermudians says:

      Dear Mr. Chapman,

      Your commentary is well written, showing much care and effort. My concern is that, contrary to what the government is suggesting, the granting of the SDO will hurt, not help tourism; it will hurt, not help the workers at TPR; it will hurt, not help Bermudian homeowners. In fact, TR’s debt is so huge that even the profit from the sale of these houses will not prevent TPR’s backruptcy, so the whole discussion of the SDO is a huge waste of everyone’s time and effort.

      I direct you to my comments above, which expain these points more fully, and I look forward to your addressing each these points directly.

    • My two cents says:

      SDO’s were designed for national emergencies. The land is protected under the law for a reason. If we continue giving out SDO’s for tourism, then what is the point of protecting the land? Why even have these laws? Tucker’s Point failed, and it needs to go into receivership. If my business fails, I get no special treatment. This does not make any sense. The government should do the right thing, and say no to the SDO. If Tucker’s is already a five star hotel, then what more does the Rosewood Company want? Buy it and turn it around. Bermuda is in the habit of “if you build it they will come” Look around you see all the empty condos, homes, luxury homes, and office space? All that concrete were trees once stood just sitting there empty. Please no more of the same. The building boom is over and it will NEVER be what it was.

    • 32n64w says:

      @ David

      You remarked above “That which is zoned open space, nature reserve or recreational will remain so under the proposed Tucker’s Point development plan as it is published currently”, however, a quick comparison of the existing zones set out in the Bermuda Plan 2008 (http://www.planning.gov.bm/TestMap.aspx) with the plans put forth by Tucker’s Point (http://www.royalgazette.com/storyimage/RG/20110216/NEWS04/702169938/AR/AR-702169938.jpg?q=100) would appear not to support that assertion. Specifically:

      1. Glebe Hill (zoned Water Resources Protection Area & Woodland Reserve)
      2. Paynter’s Hill (zoned Nature & Woodland Reserves)
      3. Paynter’s Hill (zoned Water Resources Protection Area & Woodland Reserve)
      4. Ok
      5. Ok
      6. Harrington Sound Road (zoned Cave Protection & Water Resources Protection Areas)
      7. Harrington Sound Road (zoned Cave Protection & Water Resources Protection Areas)
      8. Stables Road (zoned Woodland Reserve)
      9. Quarry Hill (zoned Woodland Reserve)
      10. Mangrove Lake
      11. White Crest Hill (some Woodland Reserve but mostly ok)

      Clearly the vast majority of their proposed locations fall under areas that are currently protected by the Bermuda Plan 2008.

      Unless you’re being purposefully selective in choosing which zones are being affected (i.e. ignoring woodland reserve, cave & water resource protection areas) how does this SDO not contravene existing planning restrictions which have been developed over the years to ensure, protect & preserve key areas of our environment?

    • Letariatpro says:

      Clearly MR. Chapman did not read the SDO in full as he suggests, as I am sure he is more learned than I and even I can see he is mistaken in this case. Have another look.

      Or was it your intent to spread FUD and spin?

  26. Stuart Hayward says:

    David Chapman says:
    “Private enterprise is just that – private, and the government is not interfering with private enterprise as some have asserted as the land does not belong to the government, it belongs to Tucker’s Point. Government is only acting as a facilitator to allow businesses to take place. If Tucker’s Point and the companies associated with it go bankrupt or succeed than let them do so! What business is this of anyone unless they be share holders?”

    Response:
    Actually, Mr. Chapman, it is the people’s business if land previously zoned to disallow any development, and therefore part of Bermuda’s bank of protected land, has its protective zoning altered by the SDO to enable housing development. The government ought to be doing the people’s business and protecting the people’s assets by enforcing the laws, not overturning laws to benefit a private enterprise.

    David Chapman says:
    “It seems the real challenge for Dr. Wingate and special interests groups such as BEST is that land that is currently ‘green’ will now become ‘brown’. However, if the SDO is adhered to, including its conservation management plans, cave preservation orders and landscape principles, the ecological services that this land currently provides will be retained.”

    Response:
    This is incorrect. The SDO converts acres of land (see below) from Recreation, Woodland, Coastal and Cave Conservation zoning to residential 2 zoning standards. That means that instead of the acreage being forested or otherwise “green” it will be converted to concrete and asphalt (in large measure) and a manicured landscape. Even if the SDO is adhered to to-the-letter, it would be impossible for that converted land to provide the same “ecological services”. In any case, given a) that Tucker’s Point has already reneged on a promise to allow Dr. Wingate and Bermuda cave expert Dr Tom Iliffe to examine the caves and other environmental features, and b) that the government’s enforcement of Planning laws is already weak and growing weaker due to budget cuts, it is questionable that the SDO WILL be adhered to.

    David Chapman says:
    “It must be remembered that Bermuda’s development is governed by the Bermuda Development Plan. Anyone can view the zoning at http://www.planning.gov.bm. This being said, this area is already zoned for development, albeit in different classes (some open space/recreational, some residential and some tourist, etc.). That which is zoned open space, nature reserve or recreational will remain so under the proposed Tucker’s Point development plan as it is published currently.”

    Response:
    This is, as stated before, incorrect. While the SDO text as published does not expose the previous zoning of areas on which housing development will be allowed, referring to the Zoning maps in the Bermuda Development Plan shows that the following acreages of protectively zoned lands will be converted to building lots once the SDO is issued:

    Glebe Hill: 3.279 acres converted from Cave & Woodland Reserve to Residential 2
    Paynter’s Hill: 3.545 acres converted from Cave & Woodland and nature reserve to Residential 2
    Paynter’s Road: 0.421 acres from Cave & Recreation to Residential 2
    Paynter’s Road: 0.591 acres from Cave & Recreation to Residential 2
    South Road: 0.574 acres from Cave & Recreation to Residential 2
    Harrington Sound Road: 0.458 acres from Cave & Coastal Reserve to Residential 2
    Harrington Sound Road: 0.799 acres from Coastal Reserve to Residential 2
    The Stables: 4.051 acres, a portion of which from Cave & Woodland Reserve to residential & mixed use (10 semi-detached plus 24 units (3-storey)
    Quarry Hill: 9.251acres from Cave & Woodland reserve to Residential 2
    Whitecrest Hill: 40.53 acres, a major portion of which from Woodland and Nature Reserve to Residential 2.

    Mr. Chapman suggests that everyone do what he did “read the SDO in full, look at the Tucker’s Point Development maps and study the Bermuda Plan.” But if someone with two MSc degrees and working on his PhD could get it so wrong after all that “independent research”, how does an ordinary member of the public stand a chance?

    Now I expect that Mr. Chapman will, as a principled scientist should, either back up his statements with evidence, or recant them. We will see…

  27. Stuart Hayward says:

    And as for innuendo, Mr Chapman fits the classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. Two of his own innuendos insinuate that BEST wants to “halt all progress” and that BEST thinks that Bermuda is a “communist or socialist society”. These are untrue. And if Mr. Chapman is as righteous as his letter suggests, he will either provide evidence or recant.

  28. Stuart Hayward says:

    David Chapman says:
    “It is not the SDO that BEST seems to have a contention with but the development itself.”

    Response:
    Wrong. The SDO overturns protective zoning on about 63 acres of land. Once the SDO is granted, TPC (or whoever they might sell the land to) will have the legal right to build on that land, a right they do not have at present. Once the SDO is granted, the only thing left that the public can comment on is details of development. BEST is opposed to the PRINCIPLE that housing development is to be allowed on land that has, up to now, been under protective zoning. The SDO would establish that PRINCIPLE, that’s why we oppose it.

  29. Stuart Hayward says:

    David Chapman says:
    “Government is only acting as a facilitator to allow businesses to take place. If Tucker’s Point and the companies associated with it go bankrupt or succeed than let them do so! What business is this of anyone unless they be share holders?”

    Response:
    The government is indeed making TPC’s business its own. Government is overturning protective zoning to enable TPC to service its loans. It is not merely a facilitator, it is serving up 63 acres or so of previously protected land specifically to stave off TPC’s bankruptcy. I agree with Mr Chapman that they should succeed or fail as any other company. However, the government has taken on TPC’s business, trading Bermuda’s conservation heritage for the benefit of TPC’s shareholders.

  30. Stuart Hayward says:

    David Chapman says:
    “…the Bermuda Plan does have designated National Park and nature reserve spaces that the ordinary Bermudian can have access to and with the addition of Mangrove Lake as part of this Tuckers’s Point deal more is being added to this ‘green bank’.”

    Response:
    Two points:
    1) People derive “ecological services” from open space and woodlands even if they don’t have direct access. As an example, we in Bermuda benefit from the oxygen generated by forests in Amazonia and Africa.
    2) As for Mangrove Lake (which TPC is “donating” to Bermuda”, the lake is so polluted that it is dangerous for the inhabitants. Donating the Lake to Bermuda transfers the responsibility and expense of cleaning it up to the government and the people of Bermuda and lets TPC off that particular hook.

  31. David E Chapman says:

    All,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my views on the article. It seems I have a lot to respond to!

    The first response needs to deal with the issue of zoning, specifically in regards to my comments stating “That which is zoned open space, nature reserve or recreational will remain so under the proposed Tucker’s Point development plan as it is published currently.” This statement, in and of itself as a standalone, is incorrect. I apologise for the inaccurate wording of my thoughts. Using the imagery that I have available online as provided by the RG (as I am currently living abroad), indeed there will be some encroachment into areas of open space, albeit some more than others, and into some proportionately smaller areas of nature reserve. However, I do not think the shading scheme as presented on the imagery is a fair representation of what any final development and its footprint (green vs ‘non-green’) will look like. I accept the ‘check’ to my statement.

    More appropriately, I intended to stress that, as I read in the SDO (as that is all I have to go by as to the government’s intent) there seems to be binding conditions not only to the protection of “identified critical habitat or existing mature specimen endemic, native or ornamental plants”, the necessity of Conservation Management Plans for these critical conservation areas but also that the whole progress of the development is not only moderated by the parliamentary debate to take place as well as it is contingent on the approval of any final plans by the Development Applications Board. This is a more accurate wording of my thoughts than my aforementioned inaccurate statement.

    To Mr. Hayward directly, I agree that it is the “people’s business” to be concerned about any changes to land zoning as they see fit, whether it’s on a green issue or other. However, the ‘people’ includes everyone, not just those of BEST, which is inclusive of the government of the day as elected by these same ‘people’. You state that the government ought to be doing the people’s business and protecting people’s assets by enforcing the laws, not overturning laws to benefit a private enterprise. Does not any government have to react to the needs of all its constituents as best as possible and not just a select group? Is not the attempt to facilitate the creation of long term jobs and economic stimulus a part of this and the use of legislation in legal and constitutional ways the methodology to go about this? Sustainable development is not about no development as you well know, and as the BEST website states, so for me, I see the SDO as a genuine attempt to seek a fair balance between what so many are calling for in Bermuda (foreign exchange influxes, a revived tourism product, etc.). My comments on the SDO are merely to say that it is good attempt to achieve this balance of environment, social sustainability and economics. It is far from perfect, but hopefully with the debate to take place as well as the participation of the public it can be refined, adjusted or cancelled if that’s what the majority of Bermudians think is needed, not just based on the special interest views of a select group.

    I believe the rest of Mr. Hayward’s comments can be responded to by my views in the above paragraph. However, I did want to respond to this issue of ecological services. As I stated in my response above, from an ecological services point of view, “as long as the critical environments (especially any cave habitats) and the associated ecological services are not negated than development that will ultimately benefit my people is something I can support.” I do not want to attempt to go into detail with my analysis as this forum is limited as my previous post has exposed. To be clear, without doing a ecological services analysis, the primary services of the woodland reserve areas to be encroached upon will be the provision of animal habitats (birds, bees, , other insects, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, etc.), the environmental services associated with plants and trees such as the production of oxygen, absorption of carbon dioxide as well as geographical based considerations such as shelter from high winds, etc. (Forgive me if I leave omit any that other’s can think of off the cuff.) This is why I stated in my previous post that IF the conditions of the SDO are adhered to (and possibly enhanced through the following weeks and months) which includes the protection of the woodland areas or the replacement of woodland reserves with planting schemes, etc., then there is likely to be no loss of ecological services, as none of these services mentioned are contingent on having only the whole woodland areas as they are now formulated remain in place. This is especially so for ecosystem services such as oxygen as Mr. Hayward mentioned as it is a well known fact that the majority of oxygen in our planet’s atmosphere is produced by marine algae (i.e. phytoplankton). This is not to say that I condone deforestation but merely trying to put some context into what can be an emotional issue.

    I assume when Mr. Hawyard speaks of Mangrove lake being so polluted that it is dangerous for the inhabitants, that he is referring to species like the invasive Cane Toad, which have been found to suffer from mutations in brackish and aquatic habitats around Bermuda. As he did not elaborate, I cannot comment on his assertion in detail. However, I do know that the mangroves that do exist in the lake are extremely productive and serve as valuable habitat for many bird species, reptiles and invertebrates and is a key home to Bermuda’s protected endemic Killifish, not to mention serving as a major benthic and aquatic habitat for microorganisms that potentially play a key role in our marine habitats through subterranean exchange. As someone who is intrigued by Mangrove forests, I welcome any additional access to the public of areas such as this and if the lake happens to be polluted in some way, hopefully remedial efforts can be taken, with or without the involvement of TPC.

    This debate and others like it are valuable and healthy to Bermuda’s democracy. I am thankful as always for the chance to participate….

    • 32n64w says:

      @ David

      “Using the imagery that I have available online as provided by the RG (as I am currently living abroad), indeed there will be some encroachment into areas of open space, albeit some more than others, and into some proportionately smaller areas of nature reserve. However, I do not think the shading scheme as presented on the imagery is a fair representation of what any final development and its footprint (green vs ‘non-green’) will look like. I accept the ‘check’ to my statement.”

      The imagery provided by the RG was prepared by TPC so presumably they should have gotten it right?

    • My two cents says:

      You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig! People are going to turn on the PLP for this, you mark my words here.