If attorney-at-law David Comissiong had his way no more hotels would be constructed on beaches here.
“Barbados has already done too much building of physical structures, including hotels on the best beaches of the country. . . .We are in the process of spoiling some of the best physical assets that our country possess,” Comissiong told Barbados TODAY as he again threatened to go to court to prevent construction of the controversial 15-storey Hyatt Centric Resort unless a proper environmental impact study is done before permission is granted to the developers.
The social activist, along with the National Trust, has opposed the planned $100 million project on environmental grounds from the very beginning, and last August he threatened legal action if the project was not subjected to a comprehensive environmental impact assessment that included wide public participation.
Comissiong today repeated the threat in the wake of a call yesterday by real estate and property management magnate Andrew Mallalieu for the construction to go ahead, and a statement last week by Director of Caribbean Consultants Ltd James Edghill that he was “comfortable” the project would start this year. Edghill’s company is one of the firms to be involved in the much-touted Carlisle Bay, Bay Street, Michael hotel development.
Referring to the case in which Justice Pamela Beckles ruled against the Immigration Biometric Regulation 2015, nullifying Government’s attempt to fingerprint Barbadian travellers, Comissiong, who had brought that lawsuit, said all he wanted was for Government to follow the right process.
“That may not be the position of the majority of people of Barbados or of the Government of Barbados, but what I am saying is that whatever decision you ultimately come to, the correct legal process must be followed. And part of that process is an environmental impact assessment in which the people are consulted. So it is a very simple position,” Comissiong explained.
The outspoken activist said he believed Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who must rule on the application for a permit, was “responsible and sober enough” to understand that the correct procedure should be followed.
He also warned that the wrong decision could have serious implications for Barbados.
“It is not only David Comissiong saying so. The National Trust has said that it could have implications for the very maintenance of Bridgetown’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. So this is not a trivial matter. This application requires serious and sober study, including an environmental impact assessment that takes into account not only physical issues, but also cultural, heritage, environmental and demographic issues,” he emphasized.
Additionally, said Comissiong, such assessment should include a component where residents, especially those in the immediate and surrounding areas, have a say through town hall meetings.
“That is my position. An application has been made to build a 15-storey hotel on this beach and I am simply saying to the relevant governmental authorities that they need to carry out an environmental impact assessment, including a component of such an assessment that allows the people to have a say and I am convinced that this is what the law of Barbados requires.
“So I continue to call upon Prime Minister Stuart . . . to submit this application to a proper environmental impact assessment,” Comissiong repeated.