Several environmental groups yesterday expressed disappointment over the government’s decision to sign a heads of agreement with Disney Cruise Line for a controversial cruise port project at Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera, “in the dead of the night”.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the signing on Saturday during a town hall meeting in Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera.
The signing took place at the Cabinet Office last week, but the media were not invited to cover it.
The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation, reEarth, Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas released a joint statement in light of the signing.
In the statement, the groups said, “We are very disappointed that such a signing was made in the dead of night, but we are pleased that Disney and the government have confirmed that no construction will take place at Lighthouse Point until the environmental impact assessment (EIA) is prepared, reviewed and approved.
“It is our expectation that Disney will prepare a world class environmental assessment consistent with the best U.S. and international standards, and that Disney and the government will engage in a transparent and public process reviewing the EIA on the impact of the proposed project at this internationally recognized, very special space.
“We are looking forward to the open public consultations that will be carried out as a component of this EIA, as this issue is of extreme import to Bahamians in Eleuthera and throughout the country.”
In October 2018, the government approved Disney’s proposal.
The development is expected to cost between $250 million and $400 million, according to a statement the government released on the weekend.
Opponents to Disney’s development had expressed concern about the project potentially destroying the ecological and cultural assets of local environments, the project stripping locals of access to beaches and public spaces and not stimulating the local economy.
The Bahamas National Trust (BNT), environmentalists and non-governmental organizations spoke out strongly against the proposed development.
With their “Save Lighthouse Point” petition, BNT and One Eleuthera Foundation had lobbied the government for approval of an alternative proposal to turn the 700-acre property into a national park.
One Eleuthera Foundation CEO Shaun Ingraham and BNT Executive Director Eric Carey declined comment when reached yesterday.
On Saturday, Minnis said, “The project will be environmentally friendly and there will be no damage to our environment.”
According to the government, the construction of the port will not start until an EIA and environmental management plan have been reviewed and approved.