BEST Applauds WEDCo’s Public Consultation

March 21, 2016

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST] wishes to applaud WEDCo on its announcement last week that it would consult with the public on the optimum use for the nine acres of new land being transformed from productive marine habitat to terrestrial uses at the South Basin [Cross Island] in Dockyard.

BEST said, “This move on WEDCo’s part of going to the public is the correct one. The costs of this new land are borne by everyone. Those costs include the loss of marine productivity and all that entails, plus the costs of the landfilling. The brand new 9 acres of land — waterfront land, prime real estate we are told — is an asset that belongs to all Bermuda.

“The benefit of any economic windfall should accrue to everyone. Likewise, decisions about the uses of the land should not be left to WEDCo alone. No matter that WEDCo has had the sole say on the existing Dockyard property. This is new land and needs a new arrangement, especially in anticipation of plans for further landfilling.

“Originally, WEDCo’s proposed end-uses for this new land were almost entirely industrial/commercial. While they mentioned a marine college in their public statements, they never applied for anything like that.

“Dockyard is already a dense concentration of commerce and industry. What is needed is not more industrial activity, nor a spread of existing industrial activity to areas previously free of or shielded from industrial activity, like those areas adjacent to the Cross Island landfill site.

“New land should have an abundance of uses now in short supply: open space, parkland, recreational land, cultural, educational and agricultural uses. In our view, industrial uses should be off the list because this new land is right next to one of the least polluted and most productive marine areas in our entire Island.

“Moving industrial activities that are currently ‘dirty’ from Dockyard’s North Basin to the relatively clean Cross Island area under the pretext that the step is an environmental plus is not acceptable.

“These brand new 9 acres are adjacent to an environmentally sensitive marine zone so the uses planned for the new land need to be environmentally sensitive. With this outlook, this new land area should not include more industrial activity or activity known to be source of pollutants and other environmental threats.

“Any application for development will need to be subjected to an Environmental Impact Assessment and, because of the sensitivity of the marine areas in the quadrant to the west, south and east of the landfill, the optimum uses will need to be environmentally-friendly.

“Open space and parkland top the list of suitable uses. Educational, cultural and vertical-agriculture uses would come next. Terrestrial – or marine-industrial uses should not be considered, not even at the bottom of the list.

“Our recommendation would be for the new land to be immediately designated as a Special Study Area in line with the Bermuda Development Plan.

“We encourage members of the community to take part in this consultation effort and share their ideas with Wedco for uses of this new land that are, foremost, in the community’s best interests.”

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Comments (4)

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  1. SMH! says:

    So, let me get this straight, BEST want WEDCO to spend $39 million on this land and leave it as open space?

    There are NO REVENUES with open space, so how is the land going to be paid for? Is BEST going to purchase it?

  2. paperboy says:

    BEST is correct that this very expensive land belongs to Bermuda and our community has the right to be engaged around use post AC35.

    Why we are filling in the South Basin is a large and very expensive open question. Why are we spending at lest $39 million to create nine new acres when we had the opportunity to rent Morgan’s Point for a fraction of that price?

    There have been no answers to the many questions about renting Morgan’s Point. Team Artemis clearly was able to negotiate with Morgan’s Point.

    The emerging narrative is that WEDCo saw AC35 as a chance to create long term revenue streams with a Government Department as the anchor tenant on the new land.

    The fact that these WEDCo plans violated planning polices were either a calculated risk or very bad legal advice. In the absence of public consultation, the $39million spend to fill in this land was a revenue strategy cooked up by WEDCo with the approval of a number of Government Ministers.

    BEST pointed out correctly that the Minister and WEDCo were working outside their legal remit for land end use and here we are today with a $39 million dollar and counting spend.

  3. SMH! says:

    Paperboy, one base on Morgans Point is a lot different than the Americas Cup Village.
    Government would have had to spend $39 million on infrastructure improvement on Morgans Point, Sewage, potable water, power etc. All of this would have been public funds being used to improve a private development and the WEDCo Land reclamation was not because of the Americas Cup, it has been planned since about 2007 by the previously appointed PLP WEDCo board.

  4. Jennifer Flood says:

    Perhaps I am missing something, but if the ‘WEDCo Land reclamation … has been planned since about 2007 by the previously appointed PLP WEDCo board” there was plenty of time and opportunity to ensure the necessary protocol and legal requirements were followed.