NASSAU, BAHAMAS – While local environmentalists have sounded the alarm on what they say are inadequacies in Disney’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the development of a cruise port at Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera; Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and tourism minister Dionisio D’Aguilar both asserted on Sunday that government remains confident that the company will do due diligence in its research and eventually roll out the proposed multi-billion-dollar project.
“The FNM is the party that instituted Environmental Impact Assessment studies and, in this spirit, we will remain faithful stewards of the environment. We will ensure high environmental standards and safeguards with investment projects by Bahamians and international investors,” the prime minister said.
“Every government must balance economic development and environmental protection and preservation.
“The new project in South Eleuthera is an example of our determination to do both.”
The prime minister was addressing congregants at the Free National Movement’s second anniversary church service held yesterday at the Cousin McPhee AME Church on Carmichael Road.
Meantime, D’Aguilar said his faith in the mega cruise and entertainment company rests on the fact that Disney’s reputation is riding on its commitment to cause no environmental hazards during the roll-out of the cruise port.
“There isn’t a company better than Disney,” D’Aguilar asserted.
“When we sat down and talked to them; it is so much more important to their philosophy that they get this project right.
“They don’t want something like this to reflect poorly on what is their huge revenue generator; which is all of their parks and the fact that it’s a family company that goes above and beyond what is necessary to ensure that the environment is protected and that they demonstrate good governance.”
The $250 billion-dollar pier is to be built on Lighthouse Point.
Environmentalists have argued for almost one year that the project will have adverse effects on the environment.
They have also lobbied that Lighthouse Point is an important natural and cultural site in the heart of a proposed Marine Protected Area and urged government to pump the brakes on the project’s approval.
Based on these arguments, the group of environmentalists, which consists of BREEF, EARTHCARE, reEarth, Save The Bays and Waterkeepers, said on Sunday that the recently released Heads of Agreement (HoA) described a project that is far larger than anticipated.
The group called on government to ensure that Disney’s scope of works would not exceed what was initially laid out concerning the cruise port.
“I just feel comfortable that the Disney corporation is not going to allow this to go wrong,” the tourism minister said.
“They will get this right and ensure that the environment is protected and ensure that their product is beyond repute and they will not let a project in South Eleuthera damage their corporate philosophy.
“When you go into a business relationship with someone and you do it with someone as reputable as Disney; I am not concerned.”
D’Aguilar noted that while he is confident that the company will not bring adverse effects to the environment with its cruise port development; he noted that government will also do its part to ensure that the cruise giant abides by rules laid out in its agreement.
“Obviously we will do our due diligence and ensure that persons in charge of oversight on our end are doing what they are supposed to do,” he said.