A new advocacy group is petitioning the government to ensure the natural environment on Paradise Island is protected if Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is allowed to build its Royal Beach Club. Protect Our Islands Fund (POIF) explained in a statement that it wants Bahamians to have their say about the project before shovels hit the ground.
While some advocacy groups have called on the government to deny RCI the project altogether, POIF is asking the government to ensure that the western end of Paradise Island, where the project is proposed to be built, is protected from massive infrastructural development.
“Protect Our Islands Fund (POIF) wants the government to carefully consider what is at stake and allow Bahamians an opportunity to weigh in before the $110 million project breaks ground on the western end of the island,” the statement stressed.
POIF noted that its group is comprised of environmentalists, human rights advocates, businesspersons and activists.
POIF spokesperson Shonalee Johnson said in the statement that the group does not want RCI to move ahead with its project without proper environmental oversight or public input.
“The Royal Beach Club would bring massive crowds, infrastructure and machinery to this small, naturally beautiful area, generating waste and pollution while straining local resources,” Johnson said.
“Without a robust plan to manage all of the people, buildings, energy and waste, the Royal Beach Club could cause irreparable damage to marine life and the reef on the western edge of the Island.”
While the RCI project has undergone at least one public consultation meeting, POIF contends that much more information, including a “thorough environmental review and a public consultative period” are needed before the government makes a final decision on the project.
Environmental group Save the Bays has called on Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis to terminate RCI’s Crown land lease.
“The deal would set back Bahamian industries and block Bahamians from the enjoyment of asset use and value in what little is available for ordinary Bahamians, while nearly monopolizing and increasing the riches for Royal Caribbean in The Bahamas,” Davis said in 2020 while in opposition.
“The deal would leave Bahamians and the country’s future with the lion’s share of any losses and damage from any unexpected or unforeseen decline in Royal Caribbean’s Bahamas strategy. This is grossly unfair to Bahamians and the next PLP Government will terminate this agreement.”
POIF stated it exists to ensure that RCI follows the law and develops its beach club in an environmentally friendly manner.
“The group believes this will not happen unless the government follows the law and brings transparency to the process,” the statement noted.
Johnson said The Bahamas is at serious risk if companies do not focus on environmental protection.
“That’s why it is critical that our elected leaders and the government ensure Royal Caribbean’s Royal Beach Club is built and run in a way that allows everyone to enjoy the natural beauty of Paradise Island, so Bahamians can live, work, and play in our community for generations to come,” she said.