Environmental advocacy group questions America’s Cup plan
Published on December 8th, 2014
When it was announced that Bermuda would be host to the 35th America’s Cup, the early renderings showed the plan for the proposed America’s Cup Village at the Royal Naval Dockyard.
Once an asset to the British Royal Navy, the site had fallen into disrepair before investment transformed the once-unused edifice into now being one of the islands’ biggest tourist attractions. As dockage for the largest cruise ships that visit the island, the Dockyard is chocked full of shops, museums, restaurants and amusement options.
But transforming the area to include the America’s Cup Village will not be without effort. Said one of the early venue bidders upon first view, “This is going to be one huge municipal project. Where they’ve drawn the bases and the village is water with presumably coral bottom.”
The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, an environmental advocacy organization that works primarily to preserve and protect Bermuda’s dwindling open spaces, has stepped into the conversation with a statement published in the Bernews. Here’s an excerpt…
Before we plough ahead with our preparations, we would just like to highlight that it is important to be mindful of the longer-term economic, environmental and social implications of each and every development.
We must ensure that Bermuda achieves the best value for money and aims to develop in a way that will provide lasting economic use and benefits for the longer-term. We do not want to end up with derelict or under-utilised developments in 2018 and beyond and we do not want the taxpayer to end up with a net loss from this event like San Francisco. We cannot afford this.
There are questions that should be addressed beforehand:
– What is the plan?
– If the plan is to go ahead with land-filling eleven acres at Dockyard for a “village”, what will that area be used for after the AC?
– Will it accommodate tourism in the future?
We must ensure that all development is done in a way that minimises damage to our marine and terrestrial environments. Despite tight timelines, emphasis must be placed the environmental consequences of each development proposed and we must work together to come up with the plan that enables us to achieve suitable facilities for this world class event with as little environmental disruption as possible.
For larger developments, thorough and reputable Environmental Impact Assessments will be critical. The breathtaking natural beauty of our Island and its harbours played a huge role in winning us this cup. We must be careful not to degrade this as we scramble to prepare for 2017.
Once again, some questions should be posed here, such as:
– What marine habitats will be affected?
– In what ways will they be affected, and how extensively?
– Are there ways to promote other areas simultaneously to offset this?