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Minister: Govt not to blame for Blackbeards

A government minister claimed on Friday to “find it curious” that environmentalists have sought to “target” the present administration over the Blackbeard’s Cay development, telling Guardian Business that it does not deserve “blame” for the project.

Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle told this newspaper that “all approval of the project was done by the former administration with full understanding of everything surrounding the project, including whatever concerns that were being expressed.”

His comments come as environmentalists have moved to launch judicial review proceedings with respect to Blackbeard’s Cay, among whose principals are former Cabinet minister Charles Carter, and Spanish Wells’ Chief Councillor and businessman Abner Pinder.

Blackbeard’s Cay, also known as Balmoral island, is located off the coast of New Providence, opposite the Sandal’s Royal Bahamian resort.

It has operated in some form as an attraction for tourists visiting New Providence since the mid-1990s. In recent years it closed and underwent renovations at a cost of $5 million, which included the creation of a pen where dolphins would be kept with a view to offering dolphin encounters to tourists.

ReEarth, an environmental group based in New Providence and led by activist Sam Duncombe, has led opposition to the project being given approval to open to the public, expressing concern in particular about the appropriateness of the dolphin facility for housing the marine mammals. Duncombe has asserted that the developers of the cay did not go through the necessary procedures – such as town hall meetings – to obtain approval to move ahead with their plans.

Other businesses have also expressed fears that the opening of the island would negatively impact Bay Street, potentially drawing tourists from downtown.

The developers have repeatedly asserted that they have done nothing wrong and are in full compliance with the law and the government. Guardian Business understands that the facility is now fully renovated and is intended to open the facility to the public shortly.

Called for comment on the latest developments with respect to the island, Khaalis Rolle said the government would do “whatever is necessary to make sure they are in line” but took umbrage to the present administration “being blamed for something done by the former administration.”

The principals behind the development declined to comment on the statement by opponents that they have now set out to begin judicial review proceedings.

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