BEST going to Court on South Basin
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.