BIRD blasts Harbour Island developer’s “glaring inconsistencies”

BIRD blasts Harbour Island developer’s “glaring inconsistencies”
An aerial view of Harbour Island. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A group opposing the 4M Harbour Island development said yesterday that residents and business owners on the island are extremely concerned the project will overburden the island’s already strained infrastructure, while slamming what it called “glaring inconsistencies” between the developer’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) submissions and what it is telling the public.

The Br-Island Responsible Development Ltd (BIRD) group in a statement said yesterday: “BIRD has not claimed, nor does it have any reason to believe, that the Ritz Carlton cruise liner that is scheduled to come to Harbour island in 2022 and 2023 has anything to do with the Briland Club Residences & Marina. The developer’s accusation about that seems to be an attempt to distract attention from BIRD’s objections to his project.

“BIRD is only concerned with the glaring inconsistencies between 4M’s EIA submissions and what the developer originally promised, as well as the inconsistencies between those EIA submissions and what it is telling the public through the media and social media.”

BIRD was responding to a recent statement by 4M Harbour Island Ltd, the Briland Club Residences & Marina developer, that refuted what it described as “misinformation” being spread by opponents regarding its intentions for the development.

4M Harbour Island Ltd said on Tuesday the latest round of misinformation to hit the rumor mill is that Briland Club intends to bring cruise ships to Harbour Island and that its development will run only off the already strained water and electrical grids of Harbour Island — both of which it denied.

However, the BIRD group said: “On Thursday, December 3rd, 4M submitted an EIA explaining its intentions for developing the 19 acres south of the marina it is building, a step required to get environmental clearance for that part of the marina project. By Monday, December 7th, it had started excavating a considerable amount of the shoreline in the area covered by that EIA.

“In addition, 4M didn’t even bother to put up turbidity curtains (required by its environmental management plan) and huge plumes of dirt drifted down the shoreline, infuriating residents on both sides of the project and many other who are concerned about damage to marine life. BIRD alerted DEPP (the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection). The developer denied that the activity had occurred even though photos and videos suggest otherwise.”

It added: “The December 3rd EIA is also yet another deviation from the environmental and economic commitments originally made by the developer to Brilanders when he first proposed the project in 2017. That EIA details the full scope of the expanded project and reveals that the capacity of the reverse osmosis system has been reduced to 40,000 gallons per day when it initially was set to produce 120,000 gallons per day. Lower water usage is to be expected given the removal of the proposed flagship boutique hotel from the project, reducing employment opportunities for Brilanders, but 40,000 gallons per day is far less than the amount of water they estimate will be needed for that phase of the development (as presented to the public in their November 26th EIA). This will put considerable pressure on the island’s already taxed water supply system.”

BIRD noted further: “The ‘upland’ project (the residential part of the development), if approved, would add 63 residences which, even if water and power weren’t a concern, would threaten the low-density paradise that Harbour Island is known for. 4M owns only around 400 feet of beach front, yet the potential population size of the property would possibly be in excess of 400 to 500 persons, factoring in both the marina slips and the residential development.

“That’s a tremendous amount of additional bodies on our beaches and roads, yet this is not mentioned anywhere in any of 4M’s submissions to DEPP or its predecessor, BEST (the Bahamas Environment, Science & Technology commission). The latest EIA also doesn’t address sewage treatment.”

BIRD added: “BIRD has asked the developer to partner with them to commission a ‘Carrying Capacity’ study (infrastructure feasibility study) for the island that is publicly available and can be used to guide all development on the island, to ensure that the infrastructure is adequate and that development doesn’t ruin the very aspects of Harbour Island that make it a popular tourist destination. So far, he has not accepted this invitation.”