The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) yesterday insisted it did not solicit financial support from the Tyrsoz family, a company proposing a $580 million development in South Abaco, asserting that the support will “in no way” prevent the organization from giving an “unbiased review” of the proposal.
“Recently, Mr. Tyrsoz met with stakeholders on Abaco to introduce his proposed development for South Abaco, to solicit input from local residents and to answer any questions raised,” the BNT said in a statement.
“In the meetings, Mr. Tyrsoz indicated that his development planned to provide financial support for the Abaco National Park conceptual plan.
“BNT wishes to make very clear that this proposed offer was unsolicited by the Trust and in no way deters the organization from providing an unbiased review of and comments on the proposed development.
“The Abaco environmental community has concerns pertaining to the proposed development and has written to the government in this regard.
“The BNT has concerns about any proposed development near national parks and advocates that such developments are sustainable and have minimum environmental impact.
“The BNT, on receipt of the required environmental impact assessment report on Mr. Tyrsoz’s proposed development, will submit its comprehensive review and recommendations to The Bahamas Environment, Science & Technology (BEST) Commission for consideration of the government.
“The BNT, as a statutory advisor to government on environmental matters, has a responsibility to advise the government on the potential impacts of proposed developments on the environment and our natural resources.
“BNT is not anti-development, but when proposed developments, such as the South Abaco project, are in proximity to a national park, this committed responsibility to offer advice to the government is an urgent and high priority for BNT.”
The development project by the Tyrsoz family was announced during Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ January 2019 national address.
Minnis said the proposed project involves the upgrade and expansion of the Sandy Point airstrip, the development of the Sandy Point ferry dock as a cargo transshipment port and construction area, and the extension of Queen’s Highway in South Abaco.
On Tuesday, a group of 14 scientists and environmentalists said they wrote to Minnis urging him to reject the proposed $580 million project.
The group claimed that “a development of this scale would result in irreversible negative socioeconomic impacts on local communities as well as dire environmental consequences for many species living in the area”.
They added that the development would negatively impact local wildlife, the environment and local fishermen.