One of the posters erected by the Sandy Ground Residents Association.
ANGUILLA–Premier Dr. Ellis Lorenzo Webster and his ministerial cabinet met with Sandy Ground residents who are mostly opposed to the proposed development of a marina in their village. President of the Sandy Ground Residents Association Pat Hodge welcomed the premier and ministers to the meeting held at Roy’s Bayside Grill and Restaurant in Sandy Ground on Friday evening, October 9. She thanked them for coming to listen to the concerns of the residents and the presentations detailing the residents’ assessments of numerous negative environmental impacts that would result if the development were approved and went forward.
The proposed marina is planned to be located in the Road Salt Pond and would include development of surrounding land with high-end homes, villas and hotels. Premier Webster said a Definitive Agreement with Edgewater Company was signed by the previous government. He said his government will go along with the project if the environmental impact assessment (EIA) proves positive, unless the people of Anguilla decide it is not what they want.
Merrick Richardson, the elected member for Road North that includes Sandy Ground, said he campaigned on the promise that there would be no marina in Sandy Ground. However, approximately a month after taking office, the government was called to a meeting where a definitive agreement signed by the previous government and unbeknown to the present government was presented. He said, “We subsequently met with the developers via Zoom and expressed to them that there was no interest in a marina in the Sandy Ground salt pond. It was a shock to everyone to learn that there was a proposed development plan that was already signed and about to be executed.”
He added that although many feel that this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is not a contract, he said that a signed MOU is a contract between government and developers. He ended by saying that his government cannot say much about the development until an EIA of the salt pond is carried out.
Formal presentations were made to the large crowd by Captain Richard West, yacht owner, marine surveyor and global marine insurance surveyor and resident of Sandy Ground for 40 years, retired politician/Sandy Ground representative Edison Baird, long-time resident Rommel Hughes, fisherman Ed Carty and former Speaker of the House and a well-known environmentalist David Carty.
West pointed out several important issues. Firstly he said he is not happy with Edgewater Company that claims to have built marinas but did not show any information or photos on this. He said there was much fake or embellished information in the proposal. One of the points was the fact that the proposed water depth in the marina would be 17 feet and plans show berthing for 250-foot, 300-foot and 400-foot yachts – none of which would float in that depth, West noted. He said the entrance from the sea would require regular dredging and the amount of sand and mud excavated would potentially cover sea beds, coral reefs and marine habitats. One of the main objections was the fact that in the proposal the developer will have control of the Sandy Ground Harbour apart from the direct channel to the jetty.
Baird pointed out that the agreement was signed on May 31 – less than a month before the election and after the House of Assembly had been dissolved, when no major plans were to be considered. David Carty said EIAs can be easily manipulated and stressed the importance of the terms of reference and government’s part in making sure these terms are carefully listed and prepared.
Other speakers addressed the controversial issues of the grand scope of the development and its impact on the island’s culture, perceived negative environmental issues, non-transparency of the developer’s registration and financing, and the secrecy/lack of disclosure and timing of the signing of the agreement. Many questions were asked and points raised by residents with extensive knowledge of the pond and terrain, who added their voices as to why Sandy Ground was not the place to develop a marina in Anguilla. The evening ended with everyone having an opportunity to be heard, and understanding that the next step in the process would be to await the results of the EIA.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/sandy-ground-residents-oppose-mega-yacht-marina-development