By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Government has been asked whether a new dock and other construction work at Jaws Beach had all the necessary permits and approvals, amid questions of whether this is a “further example of unauthorised and unregulated development of public land”.
Fred Smith QC, the Callenders & Co attorney and partner, in an April 26, 2013, letter to Prime Minister Perry Christie as minister responsible for Crown Lands, asked whether the dock and placement of large boulders on the western side of Jaws Beach’s concrete ramp had all the necessary approvals from the Government.
Mr Smith’s letter also raised questions about the position of the Clifton Heritage Authority on the construction work, undertaken by a team led by Keod Smith, the former PLP MP and BEST Commisson chairman, who is also the attorney for Canadian fashion mogul, Peter Nygard.
Mr Nygard has been embroiled in a long-running dispute with his Lyford Cay neighbour, hedge fund magnate Louis Bacon. Mr Bacon is a prominent member of the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay, the non-governmental organisation on whose behalf Mr Smith was writing.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Smith said that while Jaws Beach came under the Clifton Heritage Authority, the new dock appeared to have been built on Crown Land, namely the southwestern New Providence seabed.
“Although Jaws Beach is part of the land that vests in the Clifton Heritage Authority pursuant to section 21(1) of the Clifton Heritage Authority Act, the seabed and beach upon which the dock has been constructed is believed to be Crown Land,” Mr Smith told Mr Christie.
“The Coalition understands that the Dock works are being carried out, or have been carried out, without relevant approvals and permits. Keod Smith, who appears to be in charge and responsible for the workers engaged in the Dock works, has repeatedly proclaimed that he does not need any permits to conduct such works.”
And, getting to the point, Mr Smith added: “The Coalition is therefore concerned that the Dock works may be further examples of unauthorised and unregulated development of public land, which comes on the heels of complaints the Coalition made to you on March 25, 2013, and April 8, 2013, regarding unauthorised development, construction and dredging on Crown land near Nygard Cay/Simms Point – at the north of Clifton Bay.
“The Coalition is further concerned that the Dock works are being carried out, or have been carried out, without proper procedures having been followed to ensure mitigation of environmental damage.”
As a result, Mr Smith asked the Prime Minister to confirm whether proper permits and approvals had been granted for the Dock and other works at the southwestern New Providence beach. And, if they had not, the Coalition is asking the Government to confirm what action it intends to take, and its reasons for doing so.
The Jaws Beach situation is following exactly the same pattern as the Coalition’s inquiries of the Government in relation to Nygard Cay, and whether its owner ever had the necessary approvals to almost double it in size from 3.2 acres to 6.1 acres.
Tribune Business understands that the Coalition could file a Judicial Review action against the Government over Nygard Cay as early as this week in the Supreme Court. The action will challenge the Government’s actions, or lack of action, more to the point, in following through with its requests for Mr Nygard to restore his property to its original boundaries.
It is thought that the Coalition plans to now use the Jaws Beach situation as part of its filings, in the belief that recent events there have strengthened its case.
The Coalition is also concerned that the Government may grant Mr Nygard his long-sought Crown Land and seabed leases for the land he has reclaimed from the sea without permission, fearing this would undermine the rule of law and legitimise wrongdoing.
Mr Smith has also written to Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis, and minister of maritime affairs, Glenys Hanna-Martin, over the Jaws Beach issue, along with the Ministry of Works’ Building Control Department and the Town Planning Committee.