Concerns are being raised about possible environmental damage at Dover Woods, Christ Church as a result of the construction of Sandals Royal Barbados resort, the new all-suite property that began as an expansion of the company’s existing resort.
Sustainability enthusiast Jim Webster said he was worried that the US$160 million development was affecting the area’s significant vegetation and hurting its natural and built heritage.
And he questioned why Government had given approval for the development, allowing the flora to be destroyed.
“Obviously whatever process was followed to give Sandals the approval to take all those trees out and to fill in sort of a large land and build this, people are maybe not a lot happy about it,” he said.
Webster, who resides in Canada but visits Barbados frequently, said it was while doing research on the area that he discovered images that showed the rapid disappearance of the rich vegetation in just four years.
He told Barbados TODAY he was concerned that a cemetery that dates back to the 1600s would be damaged, and Dover Woods as “the largest piece of natural area and green space” on the island’s south coast was being destroyed.
“I was rather shocked to see that it has basically been wiped off the map,” he said.
Webster has posted photographs of the area on his Facebook page – the images have been shared nearly 700 times, and some posters have expressed outrage at the development.
“Can’t believe this could happen . . . How were they [allowed] to build on a beautiful stretch of land? Surely the company should be made to restore the land if it’s not completed,” one poster said.
“That is so sad! My country being sold to the highest bidders! Stop the craziness now! Barbados belong to the people,” another stated.
Webster told Barbados TODAY he recognized that the hotel created jobs and contributed to the economy.
However, he said there must be greater balance between economic development and the environment.
“I know the hotel will bring economic value to Barbados and it will be good for employment . . . but I also thought people come to Barbados for more than going to the beach and staying at Sandals and the big resorts.
“A lot of people come to Barbados for the natural areas and the history. And if we sort of take away those things you take away from that whole experience why you come here. There are lots of resorts in the world that they can go that it is just one large hotel after the other. So people have choices,” Webster said.
In a prepared response, Sandals Public Relations Manager David Hinds said the “development of Sandals Royal Barbados Resort [was done] in accordance with all necessary permissions, environmental assessments and permits, and within the guidelines provided to us, as we do in every territory which Sandals operates.
“We are a Caribbean company and we have a long tradition and policy of protecting the environment, an effort that is carried through our work with the Sandals Foundation. The Caribbean is our home too and we take that responsibility very seriously,” he stressed.
Hinds said Sandals Resort International, the franchise owner of the Sandals chain of hotels, was “proud of our partnership with the Government that will introduce a second Sandals property, expanding tourism and its many opportunities that will directly benefit the people of Barbados”.
During the early phase of the construction residents had expressed concern about the swamp and a watercourse was in the area. Those concerns were was quickly addressed.