ENVIRONMENTAL lawyer Fred Smith challenged Peter Nygard to prove he is sincere about working together to save Clifton by stopping all marine and land construction activities at Simms Point.
Mr Smith, a leading member of the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay, called the construction “environmentally harmful” and said the coalition plans to vigorously pursue the issue.
He said: “In my view, the Coalition should indicate that it would welcome Mr Nygard as a member of the Coalition and he is welcome to join it as any other person by going to the website to do so.
“However, this is not a joke or a game that the Coalition is playing and we are not going to engage Nygard in some twisted and comical public relations strategy.”
Pointing to the Ministry of Environment’s 2009 request that Mr Nygard return the area to the way he found it, Mr Smith criticised the current government for failing to take action.
He said the construction has been carried out without permits and has prevented sand from migrating to Lyford Cay and Jaws beaches, affecting the land and marine environments.
“For Nygard to think that he can make a joke about the Coalition by saying he wishes to join us is ludicrous,” Mr Smith told The Tribune.
“If Mr Nygard really wishes to extend an olive branch then he should stop construction immediately, comply with the directives from the government, remove structures which have been built without permits and then come to the Coalition without conflict.
“Mr Nygard’s pretence at extending an olive branch is nothing more than a jokey public relations manoeuvre.”
Mr Smith said he visited Simms Point/Nygard Cay over the weekend and watched as a dredge pumped sand from the ocean floor onto the Crown Land – which he claimed is being extended daily.
“I watched as the backhoe tractor removed sand and spread it to other parts of the Crown Land beach which he has created. I watched as the dredge pump spewed, on a continuous basis, sand onto his land.
“I watched and photographed as workers stopped the dredge and hurriedly drove the tractor behind some buildings to hide it. I watched as the cement mixer continued to make cement while many men worked construction on the northern side of Nygard Cay.
“This is no joke. I have been told by the Buildings Control Department that no permits have been applied for or issued to Mr Nygard for the work which he has been conducting at Nygard Cay,” he said.
The Tribune’s attempts to confirm with Mr Nygard’s representatives whether or not such permits exist were unsuccessful.
However, in 2010, David Davis, then Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, said that the structures in question were “unauthorised”.
In response, an unsigned letter attributed to Mr Nygard said the structures that were “constructed by us over the years were built exactly where they were placed with a clear understanding by all parties concerned.” Nevertheless, the letter said they would be removed and requested a meeting to confirm the details.
Last week, it was reported that Mr Nygard has applied for a lease for the excess land resulting from the construction – a moved opposed by the Coalition to Save Clifton, the group that originally campaigned for the preservation of the area.
Mr Smith’s statement came after Mr Nygard called on his estranged neighbour, Louis Bacon, not to use Clifton, which he said is sacred to Bahamians, as a field for new battles between the two billionaires.
He called on Mr Bacon to join hands with him so they can work together to help save and restore Clifton Cay and Bay.
Mr Bacon is reportedly involved in the Coalition to Save Clifton Bay.