By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas National Trust yesterday confirmed its efforts to secure Lighthouse Point as a national park and a “model for sustainable” development.
Lighthouse Point is a 700-acre peninsula located at the southern tip of Eleuthera.
In yesterday’s statement, the BNT said it “wishes to go on record” to confirm it remains opposed to unsustainable development at Lighthouse Point.
“It is our opinion that a cruise development would not be sustainable and the environmental impact would be significant,” the statement continues. “BNT has met with and written to the prime minister to state our position supporting the protection of Lighthouse Point.”
The BNT noted in April 2013, the organisation approved a resolution to support the efforts of the Eleuthera Land Conservancy and One Eleuthera Foundation to protect Lighthouse Point.
According to the statement, the BNT is continuing to work with “key conservation and community partners to secure Lighthouse Point as a national park, and a model for sustainable development.”
The organisation has also provided Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis with a proposal for acquisition of the site, “along with a plan to create more full-time jobs, and generate more sustained economic impact for South Eleuthera.”
This model will also ensure “permanent and unfettered public access” to the Lighthouse Beach.
The BNT added it “feels strongly” that Lighthouse Point should not be “lost” to cruise port development.
“These types of cruise port, private island and other developments have proven to deliver few jobs, and have modest economic impact for the country, while at the same time placing very significant pressures on the environment,” the statement continues. “Perhaps most importantly, it is typical for some or all of such sites to be restricted to public access.
“BNT’s position is clear, Lighthouse Point should not receive approvals for large scale development, but should be preserved as a model for sustainable development in the Bahamas.”
In recent months, Disney Cruise Lines has been at the centre of speculation, with several sources on Eleuthera naming the company as the group behind the potential acquisition and development of the Lighthouse Point site.
On May 7, Disney Cruise Lines spokeswoman Kim Prunty responded to this concern in a statement.
Mrs Prunty said while the cruise line didn’t have “anything to share about a specific location” at the time, any project pursued by the company in the future would involve a “partnership with the community” and build on its commitment to “sustainability, protecting the environment, creating jobs and economic opportunity, and celebrating the culture and stories of the area.”
Meanwhile residents in Eleuthera and have formed the One Eleuthera digital campaign - Save Lighthouse Point.
The campaign has launched a website detailing the history and importance of the area, while imploring Bahamians to sign a petition to stop the sale and development of the property.
“Lighthouse Point is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled natural places in our country,” the BNT statement reads. “The area contains diverse and important terrestrial and marine ecologies including over 200 bird species and 4 endemic plant species.
“The interior wetland known as Big Pond is a rare hyper – saline water habitat of high scientific value.”
A petition on change.org to save Lighthouse Point had more than 16,000 signatures up to press time.