An environmental activist group has urged the Government and Genting Group to0 publish the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the latter’s multi-million dollar resort and cruise ship terminal investment on Bimini.
The request comes after Save the Bays made a thorough tour of marine habitats in Bimini to observe the results of ongoing development. Executives of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) also toured the island on a fact-finding mission, discovering Biminites harboured a great sense of uncertainty about the Genting project, especially as key information has been withheld from the public.
“Even the BNT has not had the opportunity to view the EIA, so a lack of transparency, while having no Environmental Protection Act in place, makes this matter worse,” said Save The Bays’ director, Joe Darville.
“The excavation work is being carried out substantially by non-Bahamians, so there is no vested interest in their psyche to have a sense of preservation for our environment. I call upon the Government to do so something about this, because it is desecrating our natural heritage in Bimini.”
Mr Darville’s outcry comes after he and a group of environmentalists, including Save The Bays director Fred Smith; Earthcare founder Gail Woon; environmental lawyer, Romauld Ferreira; and Save The Bays’ education coordinator, Nikki Severe, visited proposed sites for a 1,000-foot cruise terminal off the western shore of Bimini, and a proposed man-made island further south, with a golf course to be developed in the heart of mangroves where hundreds of marine animals such as turtles, grunts and lemon sharks all spawn.
“A Freedom of Information Act will finally put the Bahamian on equal footing with your government,” said Mr Ferreira. “It is the public’s right to access documents, the public’s right to know what decisions are being made or considered, decisions that affect them.
“A Freedom of Information Act ensures transparency, openness and participation, and it is participation in the decision-making process that is the bedrock of democracy.”
A Freedom of Information Act is one of the basic tenets of Save The Bays, the environmental movement that is calling for passage of the long-proposed legislation, along with passage of an Environmental Protection Act.
The organisation is nearing 5,000 signatures on a petition calling for both pieces of legislation, and an end to unregulated development.