Opinion by Kim Smith, Executive Director of BEST – Royal Gazette, Nov. 9, 2023

To say that we at Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce are stunned and disappointed with Walter Roban’s approval of the Gencom 2023 special development order would be putting it mildly.

It is not just us. Aside from a few isolated special interests, the opposition to this SDO is widespread. There were more than 100 objections submitted and almost 4,500 signatories to the “Save our Green Space” petition. The overwhelming sentiment was that this level of exploitation is inappropriate for Bermuda and at odds with the community’s vision of itself, and what it wants to be. Additionally, the Department of Planning and the Development Applications Board each recommended that the SDO be rejected.

Many Bermudians have expressed that they believe that the proposed development will be a blight on our landscape and destroy a recreational and open space area. This will impact not only residents, but will have a detrimental impact on our image as a tourism product.

The timing of the new SDO process in July 2021 was not coincidental: it was that very same month that Bermuda Environment Consultants first shared with us Gencom’s conceptual plan for the Fairmont Southampton site. The home affairs minister still claims, unconvincingly, that there were “no projects and no developments that I have seen or have been proposed that would benefit from these changes”. A November 2021 Pati request submitted by The Royal Gazette, seeking details of discussions between Gencom and the Bermuda Government, has yet to result in the release of records. Had they been, perhaps we could have absolutely proved the minister’s claim as untrue.

The next step in this new SDO process must now follow a Negative Resolution Procedure — under the Statutory Instruments Act 1977 — where copies of the “statutory instrument” “shall be” laid before the House and Senate. If any members of those bodies are still not satisfied that this 2023 SDO is not in the interest of the country, those members can send a message to the Governor asking that the statutory instrument be annulled — in part or in full. This means that the continued passage of the SDO approval is in the hands of the ministers and senators.

As a reminder, what follows are just a few of the ongoing concerns that we, and others, have with the SDO:

Read more here: https://www.royalgazette.com/opinion-writer/opinion/article/20231109/sdo-not-the-right-model-for-bermuda/