RE: BLUE FLAG CERTIFICATION – PORT LOUIS C&N’s MARINA, GRENADA
Once again, Spice Islanders appear heavily divided over proposed tourism development and this News-Blog has been chosen as a voice to express concerns. We are flattered. However, in their passion to object the Citizens’ Group can get a bit outlandish, in the interests of fairness – we have modified some comments and please bear in mind, not all what is relayed necessarily reflects the views of those who do this News-Blog.
CITIZENS IN DEFENCE OF GRENADA?S LANDS AND HERITAGE
We witness with the gravest concern [what we view as misuse] of our prized lands, sea fronts. Lagoons, national parks and forested areas. We witness the scant respect that is being paid to ecological considerations and environmental regulations by our administrators and developers of these properties.
We notice that over time [Grenada has seen many] professionals and knowledgeable persons – at great expense to the people of other countries and their financial institutions – to conduct extensive studies and propose definitive plans for our development.
We note that we have done the studies and plans, only to have every mindless investor/facilitator persuade our misguided, elected officials and ineffectual administrators to ignore or discard these studies – in order to facilitate the investors?/facilitators? delusions of grandeur and their greed.
We also note that many of our people have been lulled into a deafening silence with the promises of jobs, development and progress.THIS MISUSE OF GRENADA?S NATURAL ASSETS MUST STOP NOW!
Time is no longer on our side. It is against this backdrop that ?Citizens in Defence of Grenada?s Lands and Heritage? is born. We need the support of all well meaning Grenadians now!! Through public advocacy, education and sensitization programmes, we intend to stimulate discussion and action so that:
1. There is political will among the general public and the decision -makers for development strategies, policies and regulations which reflect a balance between the environment and development.
2. Decisions will reflect an appreciation of the understanding that environment is critical to the achievement of sustainable economic development.
3. The Grenadian people will be empowered to influence the decision-makers
4. There is sustainable use of our land, marine and other natural resources for generations to come.
5. There is accountability and compensation from officials, administrators, investors, developers and facilitators of any sort. Compensation should cover the restoration of the viability of all affected areas to their pre-development/pre-destruction stage.
6. There are laws to make accountability and compensation binding not only on the officials, administrators, investors and facilitators but also on their assets and heirs until full compensation is realized.
It is our understanding that the Blue Flag Programme:
i. is ?an exclusive, voluntary eco-label for beaches and marinas.
ii. is given to beaches and marina that meet a specific set of criteria concerning environmental information and education, water quality, safety and services and environmental management.
iii. has become a symbol of quality recognized by tourists and tour operators.?
We understand ?eco-label? to imply:
i. informed by a credible and thorough environmental impact assessment
ii. respect for the natural and physical heritage
iii. minimizing the environmental footprint
Port Louis Camper & Nicholson marina is an integral part of the Port Louis development, around which there has been and continues to be many concerns and controversy in respect of its environmental and social impact. Given that the Blue flag certification is an ?eco-label?, permit us to share the following concerns and reservations in respect of the Port Louis Camper & Nicholson marina.
1. Planned Destruction of the Lagoon Park area:
The Lagoon Park is an area of green public space in boundary with what is locally called the Lagoon, that sea space now under the ownership and control of Camper & Nicholson. Representatives of Camper & Nicholson have publicly claimed that planned consent has already been granted for the destruction of this ?green space? to facilitate plans to develop additional yacht berths or residential property on an area of the Lagoon Park.
The erosion of the Lagoon Park and the deprivation of access to this space is a very contentious issue for locals. Concerned persons took the opportunity to bring this matter to the public?s attention with a street march as part of Labour Day celebrations in May 2008.
For nearly a year, we have noted the dredged and dumped material in the vicinity of the largest expanse of park area. We have heard explanations that the area will be temporarily filled in to form a firm base to facilitate the operation of equipment. We do not understand why this should be necessary when there is a barge operating in the area which can facilitate the operation of equipment.
We also recall that we heard similar claims from the Port Louis developer when the marina facilities were being developed. He made similar claims about the temporary nature of the filling of another area when public raised concerns. That area has turned out to very, very permanent.
That dumped material has also contributed significantly to marine pollution when it was washed into the Lagoon area during the periods of heavy rainfall which was experienced during our rainy season.
It is ironic that the Camper & Nicholson marina has planted trees to improve and enhance the ambiance of the reclaimed area in the vicinity of its mega yacht berthing but it maintains plans to destroy the green space of the Lagoon Park which serves a public recreation area.
2. Dredging and Land Reclamation in the Ballast Ground area to create mega yacht berths;
Considerable dredging has been undertaken to facilitate the construction of mega yacht berths. The dredging and reclamation has:
(i) destroyed an area that was a breeding ground for fish stock, conch and lobster
(ii) increased the vulnerability of the Carenage commercial area (owned and occupied for the most part by local businesses), and the port area to flooding from storm surges and other extreme events now that the Ballast Ground area has been reclaimed and built up.
The Ballast ground was an area which played a significant part in dissipating storm waves and mitigating any effect of these waves on flooding in the Carenage area. In era of climate change and sea level rise, the significance of that now dreged area to the safety and security of a key commercial area and commercial infrastructure cannot be overlooked.
(iii) destroyed the sand bank which protected the inner lagoon
(iv) has interfered with the natural flushing process which maintained the water quality of the inner Lagoon.
3. Failure to Implement Best Practices and Mitigating Measures:
During the dredging and land reclamation to create mega berths, silt plumes could be seen extending extending southwards in the direction of the Pandy and Grand Anse beaches with potential negative impact on the adjoining reefs. The presence of silt plumes seemed to suggest that best practices and mitigating measures such as silt traps were either not employed or were inadequate.
4. Sewage Disposal:
We note that the arrangements to facilitate sewage disposal in the marina are woefully inadequate, disrespectful to residents of the Lagoon area and in disharmony with the environment. Indeed, we are at a loss to understand how our Ministry of Health could have turned a blind eye to the erection of 2 plastic holding tanks for sewage next to someone?s residence!
Furthermore, what is the fate of this sewage when it is pumped out of the holding tanks? Is it transferred to another location where it is duly treated before it is disposed of? Or is the responsibility simply transferred to the local authority which does not have adequate facilities to treat before disposal? Is the Port Louis Camper & Nicholson marina merely transferring the sewage and responsibility for its proper disposal elsewhere?
5. Destruction of the Islander Headland:
The St. George?s harbour is internationally renowned for its natural beauty. The characteristic horse shoe shaped harbour has been described as ?one of the prettiest natural harbours in the world?. It was one of the sights that yachtspeople and persons coming in on the cruise liners never forgot!
Locals and visitors alike have regarded with horror the destruction of the land mark Islander headland, one of the twin headlands which guard(ed) the entrance to the harbour. We are still trying to determine the purpose for such extensive destruction of a natural feature which would both protect and enhance the aesthetic value of any marina in the area.
6. Conflict of Interest and the Environmental Impact Assessment:
To the best of our knowledge, there were no opportunities for public scrutiny of the Environmental Impact Assessment.
We also suggest that the integrity of the approval process could have been compromised since the former chairman of the planning authority was also a service provider for the Port Louis developer. Did the physical development of the Port Louis Camper & Nicholas marina conform to the planning regulations of the country? If it did not, has/is any action being taken to address this?
It is commendable that the Camper & Nicholson marina should be seeking Blue Flag certification. It is the opinion of Citizens in Defence of Grenada?s Lands and Heritage that the above-referenced concerns ought to be of great significance and relevance to a certification process which will result in an ?eco-label? which is ?exclusive? and a ?symbol of quality?. Should these concerns not be adequately addressed the integrity of the Blue Flag status could well be compromised.March 16th, 2009
International Blue Flag Co-ordination
Foundation for Environmental Education
c/o Danish Outdoor Council
DK-2450 Copenhagen SV
Re – Blue Flag Certification – Port Louis Camper & Nicholson Marina, Grenada Citizens in Defence of Grenada?s Lands & Heritage is a small pressure group of concerned individuals who got together in 2008 to advocate on issues of the environment. The aim of the group is to raise awareness and facilitate public debate on issues of development and environment. Its particular focus during the last year was on a number of mega-tourism projects and other initiatives which threaten Grenada?s built and natural heritage and trample on the rights of local people. We have noted with interest that the Port Louis Camper & Nicholson marina in Grenada is applying for Blue Flag certification. Based on information in the Blue Flag information brochure, we understand the Blue Flag programme is an exclusive, voluntary, eco-label for beaches and marina. Blue flag certification is given to beaches and marinas that meet a specific set of criteria concerning environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, safety and services. We take this opportunity to bring to the awareness and attention of your organization the following concerns in respect of the environmental impact and practices of the Port Louis Camper & Nicholson Marina. We trust that that these will be duly considered in respect of the award of Blue Flag certification. Attached please find our statement. We would be pleased to respond to your queries. Best regards! Sincerely yours, Sandra C.A. Ferguson Citizens in Defence of Grenada?s Lands and Heritage Clifford Robertson Citizens in Defence of Grenada?s Lands and Heritage cc; The Executive Director Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST)
Thank you for your e-mails and faxes regarding Port Louis Camper & Nicholson Marina in Grenada.
Before a beach or marina in a country can receive the Blue Flag award, it is first of all necessary to ensure a proper national set-up. Currently, FEE has no representation in Grenada, so a national environmental organisation from Grenada has to become member of FEE to be in charge of implementing and running the Blue Flag Programme in Grenada. This national member organisation must ensure a proper set-up nationally with various national stakeholders (tourism, environment, NGO, public sector and private sector) in a National Blue Flag Jury.
Let me stress that the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE, the organisation behind Blue Flag) only awards the Blue Flag to a beach or marina if it complies with all the imperative Blue Flag criteria. This is ensured through evaluation of application before the award and on-site control visits during the season both nationally (national member organisation and national Blue Flag Jury) and internationally (FEE and International Blue Flag Jury).
I have not before been aware that Port Louis Camper & Nicholson Marina in Grenada is interested in the Blue Flag award, and this will not become possible, unless there is the national set-up as earlier explained and the full compliance with all Blue Flag requirements has been ensured.
Finn Bolding Thomsen
Blue Flag Coordinator
International Blue Flag Coordination
Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)
c/o The Danish Outdoor Council
DK-2450 Copenhagen SV
Tel. +45 33 79 00 79 (Mo-Th 10-15, Fr 10-14)
Tel. +45 33 28 04 11 (direct)
Fax +45 33 79 01 79