By Latrishka Thomas
The ongoing contention between the Barbuda Council and the controversial Peace, Love and Happiness (PLH) development is yet to be resolved.
And that was evident when Member of Parliament for Barbuda, Trevor Walker, briefly broached the issue in Parliament on Saturday.
He said he was “very concerned” about the “type of foothold” PLH was garnering in the sister isle, and pledged to raise the issue in a separate forum.
That sparked a response from Prime Minister Gaston Browne who said that he was willing to sit down with both the Council and PLH.
Browne said he believes that “PLH is the best thing to have happened to Barbuda”.
He claimed the company’s investment would result in earnings of US$2-3 million within the next three years, and provide hundreds of jobs all year round.
“If it’s about mining sand, we all know that your sand mining is unsustainable. Let us have a discussion – the central government, PLH and the Council – as to how we can find alternative revenue for you or how we can maybe position the council to be a part of a sand mining operation to mine sand offshore. You cannot continue to be ripping up Barbuda to sell sand to get quick money,” the Prime Minister stated.
He continued that the company could provide the Council with funding to purchase equipment for offshore sand mining.
Browne went on to accused Barbudans of trespassing on property leased by PLH.
“Because you are Barbudan doesn’t give you the right to trespass on private property,” Browne exclaimed.
Walker, however, iterated that the Council does not support construction at Palmetto Point due to environmental concerns raised by the Department of Environment.
But the Prime Minister retorted that sand mining being carried out by the Council is what is “ripping up Barbuda”.
Walker went on to claim that PLH has also been blocking a public road in Barbuda.
Browne said he was unaware of that but added, “it can be addressed”.
The Speaker of the House, Sir Gerald Watt, suggested that the discussion be continued in another forum and Browne conceded.
According to a Facebook page called ‘Barbuda Silent No More’, the blockade mentioned by Walker is to a “public beach at Palmetto Point, where they are steaming ahead with the ill-advised golf course and cottage development in the wetlands of Barbuda, a United Nations-recognised world protected site”.
The July 9 post continued, “I experienced the said blockade first hand on Monday 6th July, 2020, when I attempted to access the public beach at Palmetto Point with my children, accompanied by Mr John Mussington, a renowned Barbudan and principal of the Sir McChesney George Secondary School; we were made to experience rejection that is synonymous with the racism of apartheid South Africa.”
A PLH spokesman told Observer, “We are in full compliance with the authorities who are making monthly inspections.”