By Carlena Knight
Central government could soon be facing off once again with the Barbudan people in court – this time over the Cedar Tree Point development.
The proposed development in the north-west of the island spans almost 114 acres, with 98 of them comprising a so-called ‘security buffer’ which would place the area off limits to Barbudans.
Chairman of the Barbuda Council, Mackenzie Frank, recently disclosed on the Observer AM show that the Council will be taking the relevant individuals to the High Court to stop the project.
“The government needs to wake up and the Development Control Authority (DCA), they themselves need to be brought to the book, and the Council is going to file a case in the High Court.
“We have our lawyers working on it, we have the studies that have been done by the Department of the Environment, and we have the report of Dr Blair [environmentalist specialist] and we are going to file this to stop the destruction of the Barbuda coastline.
“They should not be building there at this time because God has already sent a warning to us; you are going to open up the whole of the lagoon into the Caribbean Sea,” Frank said, alluding to destruction caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Over the last two years, the Cedar Tree Point project has been embroiled in controversy which has sparked an outcry among residents on the sister isle, as the development encroaches on land protected under the Ramsar Convention.
Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance that have been designated under the criteria of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands for containing representative, rare or unique wetland types or for their importance in conserving biological diversity.
The environmental impact assessment (EIA) carried out by the Department of Environment noted that Cedar Tree Point is part of the Codrington Lagoon National Park where “development is not encouraged”.
The EIA, despite not endorsing such development in the lagoon, stated the plans did not involve the alteration of the coastal lagoon where Barbuda’s frigatebirds nest.
It went on to say that there would be minimal impact on the bird sanctuary, but recommended the colony be monitored to ensure that.
But, according to Frank, Barbudans do not want to see a similar situation to the Lighthouse Bay development which, after being destroyed by several hurricanes, has seriously compromised the Codrington Lagoon National Park by causing a mile-long opening.
He further stated they have brought in a specialist who recently made an assessment of the area “raising the point that the sanctuary would be seriously affected because of the human invasion” of the area the birds traditionally use as their nesting place.
“We have experienced this just about a mile away from the site at Cedar Tree Point, that it’s going to be dangerous, deleterious and destructive.
“So, why now are you going to send a person there to build on the same sand banks where, just down the road from five years ago, you have an opening that cannot be closed as it stands naturally, and you have buildings of a multi-million dollar project that have now collapsed into the Caribbean Sea?
“Why would you continue down the same road to authorise the building of these residences at Cedar Tree Point? It does not make sense. It’s dangerous and it is going to ruin more of the coastline,” he added.
The first home, dubbed the Abercorn Residence, would be a sprawling 15,000 square feet edifice consisting of several small wood-frame structures.
The second – even larger at 16,000 square feet – is named the DeJoria residence and would be constructed within three to four years if given the green light.