Officials can’t afford to be complacent, says POIF
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A new advocacy group is turning up the heat on the government with an online petition aimed at protecting the environment on Paradise Island in light of Royal Caribbean’s proposed beach club project.
Protect Our Islands Fund (POIF) wants the government to carefully consider what is at stake and allow Bahamians an opportunity to weigh in before the $110 million-dollar project breaks ground on the western end of the island. The organization includes environmentalists, human rights advocates, businesspeople, activists and others amongst its supporter base.
POIF spokesperson Shonalee Johnson said: “We cannot let Royal Caribbean build its Royal Beach Club on Paradise Island without proper environmental oversight or public input.
“The Royal Beach Club would bring massive crowds, infrastructure and machinery to this small, naturally beautiful area, generating waste and pollution while straining local resources.
“Without a robust plan to manage all of the people, buildings, energy and waste, the Royal Beach Club could cause irreparable damage to marine life and the reef on the western edge of the Island.”
Publicized as a boon to the local economy, a massive project such as the one proposed could have just the opposite effect, the group warned.
POIF’s petition page noted: “Managed improperly, the Royal Beach Club could permanently harm underground water sources for the island, leaving Paradise Island and residents of New Providence living under constant threat of an environmental catastrophe.”
Toby Smith, a Bahamian developer who harbors hope of developing a low-density beach club in the same area as Royal Caribbean, has long opposed the corporation’s plans.
The owner of Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club said the government promised him a lease to Crown land, including a parcel Royal Caribbean seeks to add to its 13-plus acreage purchased from private owners.
Also asserting pressure on the government is Save the Bays. It has called on newly elected Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis and his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration to do as promised in March 2020 and terminate any agreement that results in Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines leasing Crown land on Paradise Island.
POIF’s goal is to ensure Royal Caribbean proceeds with any development in a way that protects the environment on Paradise Island. The group believes this will not happen unless the government brings transparency to the process.
Johnson said: “From catastrophic oil spills to air pollution causing sea level rise, our way of life in The Bahamas is at risk from companies who are focused on profits over environmental protection.
“That’s why it is critical that our elected leaders and the government ensure Royal Caribbean’s Royal Beach Club is built and run in a way that allows everyone to enjoy the natural beauty of Paradise Island so Bahamians can live, work and play in our community for generations to come.”
To learn more about POIF, visit https://www.protectourislandsfund.com/take-action.