An environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Disney Cruise Line port development at Lighthouse Point, South Eleuthera, has already started and public consultation will be conducted after its completion, a Disney official said yesterday.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis revealed over the weekend that the government signed a heads of agreement for the $250 million to $400 million project last Thursday.
Disney Cruise Line Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications Kim Prunty said yesterday, “We are working in close consultation with the BEST commission to complete a thorough environmental impact assessment and mitigation plan.
“Given the size of the property, this is a several months process.
“We have been engaged in field work since last year and we continue to make visits for this purpose to ensure we are able to capture data from across multiple time frames.
“The data from the field work is being analyzed and it will be compiled into a report in the coming months and then the process will include public consultation once a draft is available.”
In a statement on Saturday, the government advised that construction of the project will not begin until the EIA and environmental management plan are reviewed and approved.
“Disney has completed acquisition of the property from the private seller,” the government said.
“Approximately 190 acres of the land purchased from the private seller, including the southernmost point of the property, will be conveyed to the government of The Bahamas for conservation and a national park. The appraised value of the land donation is $6.29 million.
“Core elements of the proposed project include low density development and sustainable design, public access and economic opportunities for Bahamians.”
Environmentalists and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have spoken out against the development potentially destroying the ecological and cultural assets of the environment.
The One Eleuthera Foundation and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) were at the forefront of the resistance with their Save Lighthouse Point petition and lobbied the government for approval to turn the 700-acre property into a national park.
The government approved the Disney project on October 19 amid raging public debate over the matter.
Prunty said yesterday, “We are pleased to have finalized an agreement with the government that will enable us to create new and sustainable economic opportunities for the people of Eleuthera while celebrating the natural beauty and culture of this special place with our guests.”
She added, “Over the past few months, our team members have been having discussions with individuals in Eleuthera.
“We have toured potential destinations for port adventures and we’ve started to build relationships with local businesses that have expressed an interest in doing business with us.
“This is all in the very early stages, so we will continue to make those visits over the next several months as we continue to get to know those who are interested in doing business with us.
“We have also had conversations already with Davinia Blair and the small business accelerator program in how we can work together in the future to help prepare some of these newer businesses for working with us in the future.”
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications