Barbuda Council fights on to halt work at Palmetto Point

Once pristine Palmetto Point has long been a jewel in Barbuda’s crown. But critics of the Peace, Love and Happiness development say the multi-million dollar project threatens its fragile and valuable ecosystem. Tempers flared again on Wednesday. (Photo taken by Observer media in February 2020)
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By Latrishka Thomas

“Stop doing what you’re doing and come to the table.” That’s the plea from the Barbuda Council to Peace, Love and Happiness (PLH) developers who are building a golf course at Palmetto Point in Barbuda.

The Barbuda Council and some residents on the sister island attempted to put up a fence outside PLH’s security booth at the construction site to “demarcate the area”, Barbuda’s Member of Parliament Trevor Walker told Observer yesterday.

Palmetto Point has been described as one of the most ecologically valuable sites in the Caribbean. It is also RAMSAR-designated which means its wetlands are deemed to be of international importance.

Walker said that the Council is irate and has “really had enough of the disrespect and the degradation that is going on at Palmetto Point”.

“They have basically removed the sand from the coastline which we never did in sand mining. Looking at it right now the ocean has already breached the coastline and there is actually seawater within the land that they have destroyed,” Walker claimed.

The development’s critics say the wetland provides drinking water for local deer and wild boar, and that age-old dunes that help buffer Barbuda from storms have been removed.

Walker said the Council’s action was necessary to “protect our life and our livelihood”, noting that hurricane season is underway.

 The Barbuda MP said he hoped to force PLH to “come to the table and we can decide on the way forward”, claiming the Council has made unsuccessful attempts to speak with the developers.

Walker also said that their expectation was “that as the lessor we have some sort of rights or say in protecting the lives or livelihoods of the people in Barbuda”.

When Observer attempted to reach a PLH spokesman, he refused to comment.

And, according to unconfirmed reports, the Council members were stopped from putting the fence up.

 The contention between the Council and PLH arose out of concerns raised by the Council regarding the environmental impact of the work being done at Palmetto Point.

And in a letter dated November 19 2019, the Department of Environment (DoE) alleged that the US$250 million project poses risks to human life on the island.

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