The Bermuda National Trust has accused the Government of prioritising the short-term interests of private companies over the environment.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said recently that tabled amendments to the Development and Planning Act would streamline the process for Special Development Orders.

But the BNT said in a statement yesterday the amendments would allow the Minister to approve SDOs without the need for debate, resulting in less scrutiny.

Karen Border, executive director of the BNT, said: “The Minister appears to be saying that the short-term business interests of private companies are more important than allowing for due processes intended to protect the natural heritage of all Bermudians.

“Businesses can start and fail, but once bulldozed and developed, our natural heritage is gone for ever.”

While Mr Roban told the House of Assembly on July 2 that the SDO process had caused a three-month delay in the passage of 2018 amendments to an SDO for Tucker’s Point, Ms Border said that checks and balances must be in place.

She said: “The point of an SDO is that it is ‘special’ – it can override the conservation zoning protections of the approved Bermuda Plan 2018, a plan that was carefully formulated by experienced planners and went through a lengthy process of appeals, counter-appeals and a tribunal before being ratified by Parliament.

“SDOs should only be granted for projects that are deemed critical to the national interest of Bermuda.

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