BEST “Concerned” About Handling Of Proposal

February 13, 2018

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST] said they are ”very concerned about the handling of the proposal to run ATV tours in the west end,” adding that the Island’s railway trails and parks “are for the peaceful enjoyment of all of us.”

Their statement follows after Minister of Public Works Lt/Col David Burch said yesterday that the final decision has not been made, explaining that the vehicles were seen in the west end as he had the vehicles brought to the area to view them and listen to the sound they made, as part of his due diligence in making a decision.

“I stick by my position that I enunciated publicly before, that if you live east of White Hill, you don’t get a say in this,” the Minister said at a press conference yesterday.

“It’s not affecting you. You don’t live in the west, so you aren’t going to hear the bikes. It’s astounding to me how all these people who live nowhere near the issue object to it.”

Video of the Minister’s comments yesterday:

In a statement this morning, BEST said they are “very concerned about the handling of the proposal to run All Terrain Vehicle [ATV] tours in the west end [along the western railway trail and in Scaur Hill and Hog Bay parks] and feel that the following points are reason enough for any prior approval to be withdrawn or overturned.

“1. An October 2, 2017 news article was the first time that the general public had been told of the scheme, and the apparent approval by the former Minister for the Environment, Sylvan Richards.

“2. This apparent approval was given, despite:

  • The requirement under Section 4[a] of the Bermuda National Parks Act 1986 requiring public notification be given of any proposal for such a change of use of the protected areas to be involved. While there was a subsequent invitation by the Ministry for Public Works for members of the public to submit comments, that exercise would not qualify as satisfying that requirement. A consolidated report of the hundreds of objections submitted during that process has only been alluded to with details still not having been made public;
  • The restrictions on motorized vehicles on the railway path in accordance with Sections 3[1][a] and [b] of the Road Traffic [Western Section of the Railway Path] Order 1955 [which [a] restricts all motorized vehicles specifically along the portion of the Railway Trail in “the Western section of the railway path lying between Franks Bay in Southampton Parish and the former railway terminal at Somerset in Sandys Parish” and [b] restricts motorized vehicles to auxiliary bicycles beginning at George’s Bay Road in Southampton Parish and ending at the former railway terminal at Somerset in Sandys Parish, and
  • The expressed lack of support for the scheme by the Bermuda National Trust, the Friends of the Railway Trail, BEST, Greenrock, the Garden Club, the Farmers’ Association, the Heydon Trust and, we have been led to believe, the Parks Commission, Parks staff and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

“3. A PATI request, submitted on November 7, 2017 to obtain the facts behind how the proposal was originally presented, discussed, considered and approved by the former Minister, has still not been provided to the requester, despite the extended deadline for the response having passed on Jan 30, 2018.

“It is concerning that the information we have requested via a PATI request has essentially been withheld. We took advice and lodged a request for an internal review of the matter, but the results of that process can take up to a further 6 weeks, long after the Minister’s February 15th decision.

“This continues the theme throughout this issue, that the public has been deprived of the necessary facts to make informed arguments for or against this proposition.

“The Minister’s insistence that objections from members of the public who do not live in the area [many of whom use the trails and parks on a regular basis] would be dismissed when making the final decision, should be viewed as objectionable.

“Bermuda’s railway trails and parks are for the peaceful enjoyment of all of us and we encourage your stance in support of our right to a voice in the protection of those amenities.”

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Comments (35)

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  1. Ty says:

    “I stick by my position that I enunciated publicly before, that if you live east of White Hill, you don’t get a say in this,” the Minister said at a press conference yesterday.

    “It’s not affecting you. You don’t live in the west, so you aren’t going to hear the bikes. It’s astounding to me how all these people who live nowhere near the issue object to it.”

    In PLP speak – I am the PLP. All I needed of YOU PEOPLE is to get us back in power. We are in (Thanks to You) now sit back and shut up.

    • Double S says:

      Yup. History simply repeating itself.

      I hope Burch continues on with the same logic for SSM and the airport and hotel developments underway in the East End.

  2. Double S says:

    Come on BEST you know full well PLP is the exact opposite of transparent.

    Did you honestly expect any better?

  3. somuchless says:

    BEST do you really think Burch cares. Just listen to what he says and how he carries himself. He will do what’s BEST for him. These are sad times in politics.

  4. campervan says:

    Bingo BEST.
    I’m not sure that the minister for Parks cares what you think though.
    Is the Minister for Parks even aware that residents from all over the Island use the trails for their peace and enjoyment?

    • legalgal says:

      or that he opening the door to this all over the island, i.e. setting a precedent. Let’s see what the real deal is.

  5. Family Man says:

    And Burt is too afraid to stand up to this bully.

  6. Still Laughing says:

    Sorry BEST, but “they don’t care what you think”. This is the mentality you voted for, this is what you get…

  7. Mark says:

    Wait Minister, aren’t these tours gonna happen in public parks? don’t those parks belong to all of us? that is why we are concerned. I find it astounding that you are a Minister (again) and still don’t understand that!

  8. Decision has already been made! says:

    BEST, take them to court!

  9. All right says:

    You Bermudians make me laugh! Your economy needs an injection of new investment and activities to engage tourists yet all you are worried about is your precious railway trail that has no train and the noise level which if I recall killed the very popular Pirates cruise to Hawkins Island (due to noise complaints)

    Get over yourselves or shut up when money has to be borrowed because you can’t print your own money!

    • Double S says:

      Hawkins Island wasn’t killed because of noise complaints at all. Learn your history before you comment.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      You ever spoken to any tourists (especially the ones who no longer come) and get their views on the amount of development and traffic ?

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        I have. They like Bermuda for the Britishness of the place & because of what we don’t have, such as the golden arches. All that stuff you find everywhere else makes us just like everywhere else.

    • Kevin says:

      The problem is not whether or not this makes economic sense it is the PURE ARROGANCE of Burch who is telling us whether we matter or not, who does this guy think he is ….well he did authorize the Uighers to come without our permission so he needs not your ok and nor does he care
      will we have a protest on the hill ?
      no that won’t happen people are too afraid
      This is the PLP you voted in
      This is what you should expect for 4 1 /2 more years
      Remember i din’t vote for them

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        “This is the PLP you voted in”

        No, this is the PLP Government the majority of Bermudians voted in. We have to take collective responsibility for that. This is Bermuda and life here involves all of us. Bermuda is too small for such pettiness.

  10. Joe Bloggs says:

    24/12. Get over it!

  11. Community First says:

    Thank you BEST for staying focused on the issue of land use in the wake of this confusion created by our Minister’s comments around whom he will allow to be involved in discussing how we use our Parks and Railway Trail in Bermuda.

    This position by our Minister and, by his position, our current Government sets a very narrow interpretation of community land use, objections and impact in Bermuda.

    May we all reject this very narrow interpretation and embrace all aspects of community inclusion in discussing land use on our small island nation.

  12. Upset voter says:

    The railway in Sandys is not safe! the railings are not safe!

    I like the idea but put them down coney island or southside where the other dirt vehicles are!

  13. All Bermudian says:

    If you allow this on one end who’s to say it wont happen in the other. so that is why all opinions should be accounted for.

    Saying that I propose my view. Why can’t electric ATV’s be used. Go online an see them. Just as powerful and steady as gas without all the noise and probably less maintenance. Only allow the tours during hours that are best suited meaning not after 3:30 when kids are out off school that use the trays to go home and not during weekends when ALL locals are using them.

    Seriously the battery powered ones are great. I have ridden one overseas and of course better for the environment.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Besides children’s toys I can’t find battery powered adult ATVs anywhere. Do you have a link to where you rented one? Sure would be helpful to back up the claim.

  14. Ringmaster says:

    Since motorized vehicles are banned from the railway trail and public parks it would seem that allowing ATVs which apparently must be licensed and insured will allow scrambler bikes, bikes and even cars to use the same areas. How else will they only allow ATVs? How will insurers insure ATVs that are used in contravention of the law (Public Land)?
    Seems a great opportunity for a Real Peoples Campaign to set up blockages to prevent this misuse of public land to take place.

  15. Infidelguy says:

    Minister Burch has a lot gall telling people they don’t get a say in this because they don’t live near the location where the ATVs are gonna be operated. Where the hell is that rule written? Is he a complete idiot?

    I hope the people that voted this person into office are paying attention to the foolish words that come out his mouth.

  16. Tony says:

    To say that this does not affect all islanders is probably one of the most ignorant and uneducated comments I have ever heard.

  17. Susie Q says:

    As a longer term winter tourist , I have loved walking the railway trail over the last couple of months and have loved the tranquility of it. I still have a few sections to walk before I leave but am horrified at the thought of noisy ATVs being allowed along the Trail. This is a fabulous resource that you have for locals and visitors alike and it feels like a safe place to walk and enjoy Bermuda.
    In addition, I have friends near Somerset Bridge and there are a couple of scramble bikes racing along the side roads and doing wheelies – all very noisy and dangerous. If this is what is going to happen to the Railway Trail then you have lost a fabulous resource.

  18. Warwick West says:

    You mean the dictatorial goose stepping of col Burch? Put this out in the real world and Bermuda will start trending again. Only this time not for SSM but for STUPIDITY!

    BTW the protest pepper spraying folk, by Burch logic, definitely should not have been outside the HOA to protest the airport if they live West of the Causeway. No need for pointless investigations since they therefore are all guilty of illegal gathering for protesting a project which does not concern them but only people who live east of the causeway. Case closed.

  19. Sandgrownan says:

    You can bleat all you want, Burch doesn’t care, at all.

    It’s a myth that he’s a man of action.

    He’s a bad tempered bully, nothing more.

  20. Sandgrownan says:

    Besides, let these idiots bring in ATV’s – no one is coming to Bermuda to ride ATV’s. They’ll lose their shirts unless they are on the F and F plan and sticky fingers diverts cash.

  21. Rubber Bong says:

    He says the process will be fully transparent with no preconceived conclusions but he’s addressing the situation with clear bias:

    1) He believes a certain portion of the population and their concerns are irrelevant (as if environmentalists, should only concern themselves to their immediate neighborhood)

    2) He believes the concerns are singular (“you aren’t going to hear the bikes”)

    Note: Col Burch doesn’t live in the area either