Montserratians & Former Premier Outraged at Public Beach Sand Mining

Montserrat residents are outraged and seeking answers of why vast amounts of sand is being removed from Foxes Bay Beach in the south of the island.

New photos taken on the beach on Wednesday 8th June 2016 show the sand being collected and put into trucks belonging to a local mining company.

(FILE IMAGE) Former Premier Reuben T. Meade (RIGHT) is questioning the statement by current Minister of Agriculture and Lands Claude Hogan, that the removal of sand was part of a project to prepare the beach for the turtles, which frequent it this time of the year.

(FILE IMAGE) Former Premier Reuben T. Meade (RIGHT) is questioning the statement by current Minister of Agriculture and Lands Claude Hogan, that the removal of sand was part of a project to prepare the beach for the turtles, which frequent it this time of the year.

“Turtle nesting season started June 01. This is a major nesting area for turtles. How can we as politicians rape our environment to satisfy our political financiers? How did cabinet select that miner and which transparent process was used?” asked the former premier.

"My information is that the sea sand from Foxes Bay is being mined exclusively by a major funder of PDM and he will be exporting OUR sea sand probably as early as this weekend. This is in contravention to the laws of Montserrat," he added.

My information is that the sea sand from Foxes Bay is being mined exclusively by a major funder of PDM and he will be exporting OUR sea sand probably as early as this weekend. This is in contravention to the laws of Montserrat,” he added.

It’s is also illegal for the government to harvest beach sand for export,” Meade said on social media. Beach sand can only be removed for local private use and not usually in the vast amounts now being stockpiled elsewhere.

Since last weekend, activists have been encouraging others to write to the local government officials and environmental groups asking them to denounce the activity, which began around Thursday, June 2.

"They should take sand from Trants and other places, not our beach," one resident said. "Foxes Bay is now our largest beach and we should take care of it."

They should take sand from Trants and other places, not our beach,” one resident said. “Foxes Bay is now our largest beach and we should take care of it.”

Another resident said they’d never known of this amount of sand being removed because of turtle season. The fact that turtle season has already begun, they question the timing of the sand removal.

"This is a disaster in my opinion...since when turtles need human help with finding sand to lay eggs...," asked resident Oslyn Butler.

This is a disaster in my opinion…since when turtles need human help with finding sand to lay eggs…,” asked resident Oslyn Butler.

Minister of Lands and the Environment Claude Hogan said Tuesday the sand removal was part of a project to make the beach more accessible for turtles which visit the island annually to nest.

“I hope that as many members of the public as possible will write individually to the Governor, the Premier, the Ministers of Government and the Montserrat National Trust calling on Government to put a stop to sand mining at all beaches north of Barton Bay in Plymouth,” lawyer Jean Kelsick said in an email.

Minister Hogan responded to Mr Kelsick with the following: “what you have reported is not damage, but a work in progress to achieve some specific goals including improvement to the beach head and just ahead of the turtle season to allow them to come ashore as the beach head is currently steeped in sand.

Kelsick has already written to Minister Hogan and Her Excellency the Governor Elizabeth Carriere about the removal of sand from Carrs Bay beach in a similar manner over the past several weeks.

Kelsick has already written to Minister Hogan and Her Excellency the Governor Elizabeth Carriere about the removal of sand from Carrs Bay beach in a similar manner over the past several weeks.

The removal of beach sand is a direct cause of erosion along many shorelines. It is very damaging to the beach fauna and flora, ruinous to beach aesthetics, and frequently causes environmental damage to other coastal ecosystems associated with the beach such as wetlands says coastalcare.org.

The former premier is urging residents to share the photos and get in touch with officials to stop the destruction of a beach that had been off limits for quite some time due to its location near the Exclusion Zone.

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