Lister: Cost Of Modifications Should Be Shared

April 7, 2014

Independent MP Terry Lister said that when the Shipping Channel study is complete and the recommendations accepted and/or modified, the Ministry of Transport “must lead meetings with the cruise companies to determine the extent to which each line will contribute to the cost of doing the work.”

The Government is looking at options for upgrading Bermuda’s shipping channels to allow newer, larger classes of cruise ships to enter, as well as to improve overall access for all commercial shipping.

BECLtd has been engaged by the Government to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] of three possible options for the modification of Bermuda’s shipping channels.

The Government said the three options that are to be examined are:

  • Improvements to the North Channel – which involves dredging and widening of the current channel with some removal of coral reefs
  • Improvements to the South Channel – which involves extensive dredging of sand
  • Realignments and improvements to the South Channel – which involves extensive dredging of sand

Mr. Lister said, “I am surprised that the study is being done in light of the comprehensive study performed in 2011. That study produced an extensive report entitled “Study of Bermuda’s Shipping Channels to Accommodate Larger Cruise Ships”.

“This report provided four options, which were to deepen, widen, and realign the North Channel and, fourthly, to dredge the South Channel from its depth of 8.5 – 9.5 metres to 11 metres.

“My understanding of the new study is that it’s intended to improve safety for big cruise ships entering our waters with a view to ensure that there are no delays due to weather in either docking upon arrival or leaving port early ahead of the weather at the end of a cruise visit.

“I am pleased that there has been a proper Request For Proposal proceeding the awarding of the contract for this study. I am unaware of any controversy relating to the selection of Bermuda Environmental Consultants [BEC]. This local company is led by renowned scientists Jack Ward and Annie Glasspool; this is a good thing.

“I have to believe that competent locals bring a sensitivity to local issues that the “greater” expertise of overseas consultants often cannot match.

“The decision to have public meetings on this study mirrors what was done in October 2011 when I had three meetings at St. James Church Hall, the Anglican Cathedral, and Penno’s Wharf.

“Those well-attended meetings provided much response which should be taken into consideration when government moves to the next step of considering improvements to allow large ships through the Town Cut and into Hamilton Harbour.

“The current public meetings appear to be less well-attended and I would attribute this to the fact that the “fire” that widening Town Cut and the entrance way to Hamilton Harbour brings has been removed, thus the public can hear the study with objectivity and less passion.

“The environmental issues, such as potential damage to coral reefs, sea grass loss, and storm surges can all be properly considered. Furthermore, the use of simulations will help to assess the extent of damage that could result. Bermuda should get the full benefit of modern technology to make these important decisions.

“Once the study is complete and the recommendations accepted and/or modified, the Ministry of Transport must lead meetings with the cruise companies to determine the extent to which each line will contribute to the cost of doing the work that is agreed to; the cost is expected to be large. As the benefit of the dredging work will benefit both Bermuda and the cruise lines the costs should be shared.

“Decisions relating to Hamilton Harbour and Town Cut still lie ahead. The government must again come to the people and attempt to find consensus on the modifications which will have to be made in order for these two ports to accommodate modern size ships.

“Re-balancing the cruise passengers among the three ports will help to bring life to both St. George’s and Hamilton. Additionally, it will ease the Transport Ministry with the demands of moving present cruise visitors out of Dockyard.

“So what are we already learning from the current study? First, the RFP process can be relied upon to provide a fair process. Second, the country has confirmation that local talent is available to carry out important projects.

“Third, although the Environment Charter for UK Overseas Territories has no legislation that requires an Environmental Impact Assessment, government has decided to conduct one for this significant project.

“Fourth, the cost of the project could be significant, so partnering financially with others who benefit from the project should be a goal for the government. Fifth, the people of Bermuda must be prepared to participate in the decisions relating to Town Cut and Hamilton Harbour.

“Lastly, the work done on the North Channel will also benefit the developers of Morgan’s Point, who can consider how to attract cruise ships to dock at the deep water harbour at Morgan’s Point and thereby ease the pressure at Dockyard,” concluded Mr. Lister.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    This man Lister tries to be all things to all people, yet he is only loyal to himself!

  2. watching says:

    Lister shouldn’t talk. He failed miserably when he was Transport Minister trying to ensure passengers were transported adequately from Dockyard!

  3. esmer says:

    “Lastly, the work done on the North Channel” looks like a done deal to me

  4. frank says:

    cruise line don’t pay for upgrates to shipping channels they pay for cruise docks thats all

  5. Bermewjan says:

    Just get one with it if it needs to be done, while being as environmentally considerate as possible. Try not to damage our underwater ecosytems where you can and think about how you are going to compensate for the effluence these big ships are going to leave in their wake. There are ways to counter the pollution – algaculture like that being performed by Thimble Island Oysters is one option.