Video: Minister On Planning Matters Post Gonzalo

October 30, 2014

[Updated with video] Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy held  a press conference today [Oct 30]  to clarify Department of Planning matters in the wake of Hurricane Gonzalo.

The Minister said, “In the aftermath of Hurricane Gonzalo, myself and some of my Cabinet colleagues have been inundated with calls and queries regarding repair-work to their homes – as to which works need planning permission and so on.

“Much of this information has been addressed already in a press release issued by the Department of Planning last week however I would like to reiterate that information once again for the sake of clarity.

Slideshow of over 100 photos showing the aftermath of Gonzalo:

Minister Fahy continued, “Firstly, ‘like for like’ repairs of windows, doors and roof slate will not require planning permission or a building permit if the damage is limited to non-structural issues. Owners can proceed immediately with these types of repairs as soon as it is feasibly possible.

“Repairs to buildings that received structural damage as a result of the hurricane may only commence following the receipt of a building permit from the Department of Planning. These applications will be given priority and will be processed quickly.

“However, the Department can allow for dangerous structural repairs to commence without a permit as long as they are made aware and structural details are submitted as an application as expeditiously as possible following commencement of work.

“The Development and Planning [General Development] Order 1999 allows for a Permitted Development Permit (PDP) to be used for damages caused by storms provided that no more than 60% of the structure has been destroyed and that the replacement is not greater than the existing building.

“With regards to other post-hurricane efforts being undertaken by the Department of Planning technical officers, please know they are now working to identify possible future quarry sites; assist contractors wanting to (re)open old quarries; and expedite quarry applications as and when they receive them.

“This is because there is currently a high demand for roofing slate post Hurricane Gonzalo – both from the private and public sectors. There is only one quarry with a valid operating licence at present.

“Consequently, the Department of Planning is fast-tracking quarrying applications but wish to remind the public that they still need to review the applications before quarrying can commence. Planning permission and building permit approval are needed.”

“Both the Department of Planning’s and Department of Environmental Protection’s legislation requires the applications to be advertised, followed by a two week period for potential objections to be received. Technical officers are working to have these separate legal requirements take place at the same time and as soon as possible after an application is received.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good morning,

Thank you all for coming today.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Gonzalo, myself and some of my Cabinet colleagues have been inundated with calls and queries regarding repair-work to their homes – as to which works need planning permission and so on.

Much of this information has been addressed already in a press release issued by the Department of Planning last week however I would like to reiterate that information once again for the sake of clarity.

Firstly, ‘like for like’ repairs of windows, doors and roof slate will not require planning permission or a building permit if the damage is limited to non-structural issues. Owners can proceed immediately with these types of repairs as soon as it is feasibly possible.

Repairs to buildings that received structural damage as a result of the hurricane may only commence following the receipt of a building permit from the Department of Planning. These applications will be given priority and will be processed quickly. However, the Department can allow for dangerous structural repairs to commence without a permit as long as they are made aware and structural details are submitted as an application as expeditiously as possible following commencement of work.

The Development and Planning (General Development) Order 1999 allows for a Permitted Development Permit (PDP) to be used for damages caused by storms provided that no more than 60% of the structure has been destroyed and that the replacement is not greater than the existing building.

Repairs to Listed Buildings or buildings located within Historic Protection Areas that received structural damage as a result of the hurricane may only commence following receipt of a building permit from the Department. All such permit applications will be expedited by the Department. Repairs to a Listed Building damaged as a result of Tropical Storm Fay /Hurricane Gonzalo using “like-for-like” details and materials will not require planning permission or a building permit if the damage is limited to non-structural issues. Owners can proceed immediately with repairing items such as windows, doors and roof slate with identical materials to replicate the style and detailing of the original structure.

Seawalls and docks to be replaced will ordinarily require a building permit only. This is to ensure that the replacement structures meet the Bermuda Building Code 1998 and are structurally sound. Since seawalls and docks can have a negative impact on the natural foreshore both physically and visually, planning permission may be required in some instances. Prior to considering any repair works the Department of Planning should be consulted.

For assistance, information and clarification of the requirements members of the public can contact the Department of Planning at 298-6375. For the most up to date information visit the Department’s website www.planning.gov.bm.

With regards to other post-hurricane efforts being undertaken by the Department of Planning technical officers, please know they are now working to identify possible future quarry sites; assist contractors wanting to (re)open old quarries; and expedite quarry applications as and when they receive them.

This is because there is currently a high demand for roofing slate post Hurricane Gonzalo – both from the private and public sectors. There is only one quarry with a valid operating licence at present.

Consequently, the Department of Planning is fast-tracking quarrying applications but wish to remind the public that they still need to review the applications before quarrying can commence. Planning permission and building permit approval are needed.

Additionally, the Department of Environmental Protection will require completion of a Construction Permit and Operating Licence application form. An Operating Licence will need to be approved by the Environmental Authority under the requirements of the Clean Air Act 1991.

Both the Department of Planning’s and Department of Environmental Protection’s legislation requires the applications to be advertised, followed by a two week period for potential objections to be received. Technical officers are working to have these separate legal requirements take place at the same time and as soon as possible after an application is received.

With the downturn in the economy, some of the equipment and, indeed, the skilled labour needed for quarrying operations may no longer be on island. This adds to the challenge of rapidly reopening and reactivating older quarries. We have received one quarry application so far.

Quarrying is an engineering operation on the land and, as such, is a form of development that requires permission to take place. The planning and building permit process will establish the extent of the quarrying (depth, distance from boundaries, for example) and hours of operation. The operating licence will set conditions relating to dust emissions and control. The overall purpose, particularly if the quarry is located in a residential area, is to enable this natural resource to be excavated in a manner that is not detrimental to the neighbourhood in terms of noise, dust and general disturbance for an extended or unlimited period of time.

The advertising requirements are in place so that neighbours are aware of what is going on and can have a yardstick against which to judge the ‘life,’ if you will, of the quarry.

If a member of the public knows of an old quarry that might be re-activated, please notify the Department of Planning at 298-6375.

In closing, I would also like to thank the Department of Planning technical officers who assisted and continue to assist those members of the public who needed to repair any damage to their property caused by Tropical Storm Fay/Hurricane Gonzalo. Thank you to them for their hard work and efforts in working to meet the needs of businesses and residents.

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Comments (9)

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  1. jr smith says:

    common sense people use it…

  2. Hmmm says:

    thank you

  3. Frank says:

    Can W&E please remove from the street the downed wall on harbor rd just past Cobbs hill before someone is killed in an accident!!
    It is on a corner and super dangerous. It is a very easy job to do so why not just get it done??

    • Wombat says:

      Have to called W&E to see what the problem is?

    • PBanks says:

      Has any work even been started on that section? Frank’s right – only a matter of time before there’s a collision.

    • Whistling Frog says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Why hasn’t that debris been moved out of the street already? I find it very hazardous for it to be still laying in the middle of the street after two weeks…

  4. katherina harlow says:

    Fascinating story and parallels the story asking quarry owners to open their quarries. Having obtained outline permission to reopen our family quarry which supplied some of the best limestone on the Island, I have contacted the department number six times and left 2 voice mail messages. Despite the apparent urgent need there is none answering the phone and as yet no to response to answer phone messages. Bermuda has a problem but cannot answer its own problem, even when the assets are offered it seems. The two hurricanes have shown that Bermuda still reacts and acts supportively at a people level but the administration may be understaffed or have other reasons why it is slow to respond. If true that there is an urgent need, any quarry masters interested in the best quality stone for roof slates, please contact me through Peter Adwick

  5. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    We have been cutting slate for 200 hears
    now we need approval from the dictatorship

  6. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    We know that we have Hurricanes.

    Why is the no sufficient stock pile of Bermuda Roof Slate.