The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce
Please also visit Greenrock, another Bermuda organisation dedicated to the preservation of the environment.
BEST going to Court on South Basin
August 8, 2015
The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) has decided to pursue resolution of the South Basin landfill and related issues through the Courts. While we have made every effort we can think of to come to an agreement that would satisfy all concerned, there are aspects of this development that violate standards of “best practice” to such a degree that we would be deemed negligent if we were to let them pass.
We wish to make it clear at the outset that we support the America’s Cup (AC35). As a leading environmental NGO in Bermuda we have tried to fulfill our obligations with minimum disruption to AC35’s compressed timetable. We have met several times with ACBDA head Mike Winfield and or members of his team and have jointly attempted to reach resolution on those portions of the application that directly affect the America's Cup organization. Unfortunately those attempts were not successful.
At the heart of the dispute is the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) conducted for the project that was found to be “critically flawed”, so much so that ACBDA sponsored an emergency “Addendum EIS” just a few days before the application was to be vetted. However, this emergency EIS categorically only covered the landfill, a mere one-third of the project’s components. The interim uses of the landfill (to house the America’s Cup “Event Village” — until AC35 departs), and the end-uses of the landfill (a commercial boatyard, consolidate Marine and Ports operations and a marina for luxury yachts”) were categorically not covered by the emergency addendum EIS and inadequately covered by the original EIS.
That state of affairs is unacceptable. There is more than enough time to fully and properly assess the proposed end-uses for the 11.1 acres being landfilled. The interim-use as the Event Village for AC35 also needs some level of assessment for all that will be required to accommodate the transport, entertainment and waste of the anticipated throngs of people who will be wooed to use the space to enjoy the AC35 activities. AC34 held in San Francisco in 2012 proceeded under the banner of several environmental oversight regimes. Does Bermuda deserve any less? We think not. AC34 prides itself as the first carbon-free America’s Cup. Should the America’s Cup environmental reputation be tarnished because Bermuda won’t do its due diligence? We should hope not.
We invite the Bermuda government to show the AC35 sponsors and participants that we care no less about Bermuda than the City Managers cared about San Francisco for AC34. We encourage the sailors and managers of AC35 to intervene if necessary to ensure that their legacy reputation in Bermuda equals or surpasses what they achieved in San Francisco. Further, as it relates to both the interim- and end-uses for this new landfilled area, we urge the Bermuda public to insist that existing protections for our environment be upheld, not sidestepped.
Over the next few weeks BEST will post statements to further explain this complex issue, justify our stance and offer an alternative.
BEST Appeal South Basin
BEST appeals DAB decision on landfill in Dockyard - could affect America's Cup
Media Release: BEST appeals DAB decision on landfill in Dockyard - could affect America's Cup
The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) today announced that it had appealed the decision by the Development Applications Board (DAB) to grant final approval for:
a) landfill of 11 acres in the South Basin (Dockyard),
b) interim uses of the landfill (America’s Cup [AC35/ACBDA] Event Village), and
c) end uses of the landfill (Department of Marine & Ports operations, a Commercial Marine Facility (boatyard) and Marina.
According to BEST President, Stuart Hayward, “Our formal grounds of appeal are:
1. The submitted Environmental Impact Study supplied by Bermuda Water Consultants (BWC EIStudy) was flawed in procedure and content.
2. The Department of Planning (DOP) failed to convey to the Development Applications Board (DAB) that the BWC EIStudy was a grossly inexpert and deficient document, and that the BEC EIS Addendum (an emergency Environmental Impact Statement sponsored by ACBDA and conducted by Bermuda Environmental Consultants) did not fix all the flaws nor correct all the failings. Despite the deficiencies, the DOP erroneously conveyed to the DAB that the BWC EIStudy was an assessment capable of supporting the application.
3. The DOP failed to apprise the DAB that the EIS Addendum of record addressed only the landfill aspect of the application and NOT those of the interim uses and end uses, and concurrently misled DAB into believing that the BWC EIStudy had merit for assessing the interim and end uses.
4. The DAB failed to request an additional Addendum that dealt with the interim and end use aspects of the development and, by not making such a request, the DAB failed in its obligation to procure the best information and to be fully informed when making its decision, as required by the Supreme Court.
5. The DOP failed to convey to the DAB and the DAB failed to include key conditions recommended by the Bermuda Environmental Consulting, Ltd. (BEC), the applicant’s designated environmental consultants.
6. The DOP failed in its duty to fully inform the DAB by failing to convey to the DAB key concerns of government agency consultants, including the Departments of Conservation Services and Environmental Protection."
Of greater concern in this project is that the fill being dredged for the development is not part of the application. Over 368,000 cubic meters of fill will be required, most of it will be dredged from the south channel, from Shelly Bay to Grassy Bay, without adequate environmental impact assessment.
[Note: details of these grounds of appeal and other related documents are (or soon will be) available at www.best.org.bm]
These grounds of appeal point to serious flaws in a development is huge, complex and important — especially to the America's Cup, which BEST supports wholeheartedly. The America’s Cup (AC35) is depending on the landfilled acreage on which to build their event village. Unfortunately, WEDCO’s end use plans, which are not needed for the America’s Cup event itself, and in fact can’t be realized until after AC35 abandons the site, were piggy-backed on to the landfill and received final approval that should have been denied. We alerted ACBDA and the DOP that this was a problem but the application was pushed through anyway.
Bermuda should be at the forefront in protecting its own environment. This decision is a betrayal of that obligation to the people of Bermuda. BEST had hoped to head off delays to the America’s Cup preparation and a public battle. Early talks with ACBDA’s leader Mike Winfield were encouraging. However, WEDCo’s insistence on linking their insufficiently assessed long term or end use plans to the America’s Cup has resulted in this impasse.
There is still a way out, a way that will minimise delay for the America’s Cup. The appeal is against all three parts of the proposal, the landfill, the interim uses for the land-filled site, and the end uses for the land-filled site. The first two parts could, with a little effort, meet acceptable environmental and procedural standards and BEST has pledged to work with ACBDA to expedite resolution of the outstanding issues for the landfill and interim uses.
However, the third part — the proposed end uses — is untested. Essentially WEDCO wants to convert protected marine habitat into an industrial wasteland. WEDCO promised public meetings but that hasn’t happened, So the public isn’t adequately informed nor has their input been properly sought. WEDCO has not presented a tested case for the end uses. In any case, those end uses are not required until AC35 departs in 2017 or later. Therefore, there should be proper public consultation about the end uses and an independently vetted EIA should be conducted, and that part of the application should be re-submitted to the DAB.
Our appeal is now before the Minister and we call on him to do the right thing for the people of Bermuda, our environment and our future.
Southlands - New Landslide
Media Release March 2 2015
In response to question from the media regarding a recent landslide at Southlands, Stuart Hayward issued the following:
We weren't aware of this particular slide. The coastline along a considerable stretch of our south shore is vulnerable to erosion, a vulnerability that is amplified during bouts of heavy rainfall and/or heavy wind and wave action. We can expect wave-related erosion to increase along with rising ocean levels, whether the rise is due to localised events such as the recent warm-water eddy spun off from the Gulf Stream or due to macro events associated with climate change (mainly from melting glacial- and polar-ice and thermal expansion of ocean water). Heightened acidity of ocean- and rain-water, linked to elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, along with increased intensity of rain and ocean events will predictably add to overall erosion — coastal and in-land.
Opinions differ about prevention, ranging from big-picture preventative (reducing human output of the "greenhouse gases), to localised building of break-waters and schemes to harden areas of substrate and boost their resistance to erosion.
This event does remind us of the long-overdue induction of Southlands into the national parks system. We were told the hold-up was a management plan for the park but I understand that the management plan has been completed so there should be no obstacle to a timely formalising of Southlands as a park. The public saved Southlands from development and deserves to see the park protected from future development schemes. Remedial work on the Southlands coastline, as well as within the parkland to buildings and vegetation is likely to be limited while Southlands remains in limbo.
2015 Issue 12
BEST (Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce)
Registered Charity # 858
BULLETIN – Issue 12 (February 2015)
America’s Cup 35:A Steering Committee including representatives from many local environmental groups has met and begun formulating plans and actions. It is encouraging to note that Mike Winfield, Chief Executive, America’s Cup, Bermuda, has expressed interest and concern regarding environmental matters and has agreed to meet with the steering committee.
Pink Beach: the Development Applications Board rejected their development plan for the part of the land zoned Agricultural Reserve. Bermuda’s acreage of agricultural land has declined considerably from 1540 acres in 1959 to less than 400. It is vitally important to preserve, and use effectively these remaining acres. It was noted by Conservation Services that “much of the Island’s agriculture reserves are not used for cultivation due to land owners passively or actively discouraging farmers from using the plots.” http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20150212/NEWS/150219893
Perhaps it is time for a Government incentive scheme for landowners who allow farmers to make use of their land for growing food?
2015 Year of Soils:
Tying in with preserving our agricultural land a quote from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO): “Our soils are in danger because of expanding cities, deforestation, unsustainable land use and management practices, pollution, overgrazing and climate change. The current rate of soil degradation threatens the capacity to meet the needs of future generations. The promotion of sustainable soil and land management is central to ensuring a productive food system, improved rural livelihoods and a healthy environment.” Find more on the vital role of soils at http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/soil-facts/en/#c32016 and be sure to add to the health of your garden through composting
Bermuda Botanical Gardens:
BEST was born out of the actions taken to ‘Save the Gardens’ when it was proposed to build a hospital in the grounds. A petition is circulating at the moment regarding the rebuilding of the Maintenance Yard in the centre of the gardens. For more information see https://www.facebook.com/takebackourpark
The Green Cooperative:
No, not a shop but the name for a number of environmental groups who came together thanks to Chewstick’s 2014 Beachfest to deal with waste management issues arising out of large public events. The first collaborative event will be the Catlin End to End Walk in May 2015.
The members of The Green Cooperative are (in alpha order):
Government's Waste Management
Government's Parks Department
The above is a small sampling of the work BEST is engaged in. Your support, financially and/or through volunteering, allows us to continue to work and is very much welcomed and appreciated. We wish you a happy Valentine’s Day and urge you to “share your love” with our Island home.
Members of The BUZZ Committee were delighted to be presented with one of photographer Othneal Haynes’ amazing bee photographs by Stuart Hayward, BEST President & Chief Advocacy Officer in recognition of the work they have been doing on behalf of bees in Bermuda.
Close up - you can even see the pollen sacs!
Year of Soils 2015
The attractive, well tended and inspiring vegetable plots at the Botanical Gardens. Notice the rich, red soil. Take a visit and chat with the gardeners who care for and maintain these beautiful areas.
2014 Throne Speech
BEST’s Wish List
BEST response to Throne Speech
BEST comments on the Protected Species Bill 2014
13 June 2014
Of course we here at BEST were concerned about proposed amendments to the Protected Species Act, especially as the Explanatory Memorandum highlighted the expansion of the Minister's discretion to permit “destruction of protected species” and “destruction of critical habitats”. At our request, BEST along with other members of the environmental community were given a presentation from a senior Civil Servant who answered most of our questions satisfactorily.
The core issue goes beyond this legislation. Bermuda is an almost totally urbanized island and, as a result, just about every endemic or native species is endangered or threatened with extinction. While Bermuda is often given credit for having the foresight to enact laws protecting endangered species, such laws are seldom passed before the resources they were designed to protect were already seriously depleted. As an example, in 1616 — a mere seven years after the first human settlement on the Island — Governor Daniel Tucker issued a proclamation “against the spoyle and havocke of the cahow and other birds.” But, as subsequent historians have commented, “it came too late for they were mostly destroyed before.”
Despite the various legislative attempts in the last century, it still became necessary in 2003 to pass a local Protected Species Act, in which all the most threatened species and their habitats were given total protection with provision for maximum fines of $10,000 for anyone deliberately causing their destruction. Instead of having the desired effect, aspects of the Act raised fears it would be invoked to prevent any development. If, for instance, a stand of cedars and palmettos was growing on a development lot, or if a cedar had self-seeded adjacent to a house and was causing cracks in the foundation or growing roots into a tank, it was feared any further development on that site would be blocked.
As a result, people were actually declining to plant any endangered species on their property to avoid such restrictions in the future. Some actually cut trees down in secret.
This is a prime example of where the letter of the law comes into conflict with the spirit of the law. It points out why laws can never replace values or the exercise of common sense. There will always be exceptions where the sacrifice of an individual or habitat of an endangered species can be justified, and we are persuaded now that the amendment to the Act is intended to allow for those exceptions, provided that the overriding purpose of the act is not violated.
However, we remain concerned that the amendments that make provision for exceptions put the onus of decision-making in these cases exclusively with the Minister. Past experience has taught us that discretionary powers can be abused. We will need to be vigilant to keep the spirit of the law uppermost. We will also need to place more emphasis on values and education alongside enforcement. We have to accept that laws cannot by themselves replace values, and use to our advantage the principle that values can be instilled through education.
Ultimately, common sense dictates that we should make every effort to preserve and protect species such as our cedar trees, but this should not prevent us from removing occasional individual trees that threaten a house foundation or water tank. It should not even prevent us from harvesting them for their valuable timber, provided we plant replacements to make such harvesting sustainable. That would be common sense.
Meanwhile, we are reasonably confident that the amendments made today to the Protected Species Act are a step in the right direction.
BEST comments on Pink Beach Club proposed development
Royal Gazette Friday, December 12, 2014
BEST comments on America’s Cup 35
Royal Gazette, Monday, December 8, 2014
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