Accusing the Bahamas government of allowing Blackbeard’s Cay to overlook important legal and regulatory requirements, environmental group reEarth called on the developers to produce the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment.
The group called for an immediate halt to the development and the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act to bring transparency to it and similar projects.
According to reEarth, no public meeting was held concerning the project, nor was any public consultation organised – despite these being requirements of the Planning and Subdivision Act, sections 14 and 15.
Developer Samir Andrawos was contacted last night, but refused to comment on the claims.
The statement by reEarth read: “It is unthinkable that a foreigner is allowed to march into our country and set up a development without going through the same processes, and, being subject to the same regulations, as a Bahamian national.”
Asking whether an EIA was ever conducted for the project, and if so, why it was never made public, the group added: “What government agency would approve such a venture with no Environmental Impact Assessment or Environmental Management Plan?
“The very fact that this venture has managed to proceed to the point that it has, without the consultation of any animal welfare group, retards our government processes by 30 years.”
Calls placed to Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe and Minister of Marine Resources V Alfred Gray were not returned up to press time.
Last week, a prominent local entrepreneur called on the government to release the full business plan for Blackbeard’s Cay saying the move would serve the public interest.
Urging the government to seriously investigate the terms and conditions of the multi-million dollar deal, businessman Al Collie said he is concerned that the development is still “shrouded in secrecy.”
The development has also come under heavy scrutiny by animal rights activists, who have criticised the plans for a dolphin enclosure, saying the government should not approve another marine mammal facility due to the detrimental affects on the animals.
Forty local and international activist groups have joined forces to oppose the creation of dolphin enclosures, and the environmental group said it had 3,000 signatures on a petition to oppose this venture.
In its statement, reEarth also said facilities at Blackbeard Cay could be in breach of the Animal Protection and Control Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Regulations due to inadequate shelter and depth.
The reEarth statement read: “We would remind government officials that Blackbeards Cay is still a part of the Bahamas and must be subject to all the rules and regulations that a Bahamian would have to adhere to, not by Government officials to do with as they please and as such we have a voice in how it is used and what business is conducted there. We have a right to know what is happening to our land, to our coastlines and we should not be subject to the “Old Boy Networks” of government that only profits a few of its own.
“We vehemently oppose this development and demand that it be stopped immediately.”