Minnis defends Disney’s environmental record
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday defended Disney Cruise Line and its “outstanding environmental record” after environmentalists called the government’s deal with the company a “realization of our worst fears”.
The Minnis administration signed a heads of agreement with Disney on March 7 for the development of a cruise port in South Eleuthera.
“The new cruise facility will result in long-term sustainable development, including business opportunities and jobs,” Minnis said during a local government workshop at the Melia Nassau Beach resort.
“There has been talk in some quarters about the development that are dead wrong.
“The land on which the development is taking place is private property. It was not Crown land.
“Furthermore, Disney has an outstanding environmental record.
“No development will begin until an environmental impact assessment that meets the government’s requirements is done.”
In a statement last week, a group of environmentalists referred to the agreement as a “realization of our worst environmental, economic and societal fears”.
The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), reEarth, Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas said they felt betrayed by the agreement.
Minnis tabled the agreement in the House of Assembly last week.
“What we see described in this (heads of agreement) HOA is a high volume, high-impact project encompassing not only massive infrastructure but substantial and irreversible alteration of the natural surroundings at Lighthouse Point,” the group said.
“What we see is a repeat or worse of Castaway Cay, where Disney quite literally manufactured an artificial beach, dredged an enormous channel, and turned what used to be a pristine island of stunning beauty into an amusement park that bears virtually no resemblance to the rest of The Bahamas.”
According to the agreement, the government has agreed to lease to Disney Cruise Line portions of the seabed in South Eleuthera at a cost of $1,000 per acre for 50 years, for its $250 million to $400 million cruise port at Lighthouse Point.
The document notes that the portion of the seabed to be leased by the government consists of the seabed underlying the proposed pier, berth and marina for the project.