CLIFTON PARK COMMITTEE
P.O.BOX SS 5905
January 26, 2000
Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham
Dear Prime Minister,
On behalf of the Clifton Park Committee, we are Writing to ask that the
Bahamian government require Bechtel corporation and Chaffin/Light developers to
complete an environmental assesment of its proposed 637 unit residential and
marina resort at Clifton, before issuing any approvals for that project.
The Government Found Bechtel’s Ela to be Inadequate and Uuntrue
Although these U.S. based developers created a preliminary environmental
assessment (the “Bechtel EIA”) completed in April 1998 the Bahamian
government has declared the Bechtel EIA to be “inadequate” and deficient.
The government’s scientific and engineering consultants have predicted
that Bechtel’s Clifton development, as currently configured, may have
catastrophic impacts on the reef and beach ecosystems of western New Providence
Island and on the communities that rely upon those ecosystems for recreation and
subsistence, and that Bechtel’s development will damage or destroy
irreplaceable and historic and cultural sites.
Following the release of Bechtel’s environmental impact assessment completed in April 1998, on the proposed Clifton Cay project, the Bahamian government Contracted with Miami based Law Engineering and Environmental Services to perform an independent review of the findings of the Bechtel EIA. The purpose of that review, completed in April 1998, was to determine whether Bechtel’s EIA adequately addressed and mitigated the environmental impacts associated with the development project. The Law Report found that the EIA did not adequately and truthfully address impacts to coastal, marine and cultural resource
“The EIA significantly lacks the detail necessary to
The government contracted scientist also charged that their independent
field observations had found “numerous inconsistencies between the actual
condition and the reported conditions” in Bechtel’s EIA.
The government consultants ridiculed Bechtel’s specific recommendations
declaring that these “ cannot be supported by rigorous scientific data “and
added that” many of the recommendations appear to be based upon anecdotal
evidence” and that Bechtel’s conclusions “appear to be fundamentally
The Clifton Cay Project May Cause Catastrophic Impacts to the
Region’s Reefs and Beaches.
The Bahamian government report further predicted that the Clifton Cay
project could impose dramatic and debilitating impacts upon the environment and
upon Bahamian cultural treasures. The
most disturbing revelations in the government’s report are its conclusions
that the Clifton Cay porject as proposed may cause damage or destruction to the
regional reefs including the North Shore and South Shore reefs and the
spectacular elkhorn corals of Goulding Cay.
Indeed, according to the government report, all of the world class reefs
around western New Providence island could be sacrificed to this project.
These reefs draw scuba divers to our country from around the globe,
support an $18 million annual scuba tourist industry and have been proposed for
designation as a natural underwater park and marine sanctuary of the Bahamas
National Trust. The loss of
international treasures like the Tongue of the Ocean reef system concerns all Bahamians.
Other potential impacts include the destruction of existing beaches in
the region including “the possible complete loss of beach sands” in West
Bay. These are only a few of the chilling impacts disclosed by the
The Bechtel Project Will Shut the Gates on Clifton’s Beaches, Reefs
and Open Space that Have
Historically Enriched the Lives Of the Bahamian People.
Another impact that will affect all Bahamians is the loss of public
access to the last large piece of open space on New providence Island.
Although the Bahamas has one of the highest ratios of conservancy lands
among the world’s nations, all of our country’s conservancies are on the
outer islands where they serve as playgrounds for wealthy foreigners.
There are no conservancies on New Providence Island where 80% of
Bahamians reside. For many of us,
the beaches of Clifton are not just an important recreational resource.
Clifton’s beaches and reef’s represent a giant financial asset to people
who do not have large bank accounts or large air-conditioned homes to which they
may retreat on sweltering days. Public
access is an ancient right guaranteed by the Magna Carta, by our
constitution and by Bahamian tradition.
The Clifton area is the largest piece of undeveloped open space and one
of the longest stretches of publicly used shoreline land on New Providence
Island. As the government report
points out, the south shore reefs are the only reefs of New Providence Island
that are accessible from the shoreline. The
beaches and tidal shore lands of Clifton have traditionally served as a
important gathering spot for Nassau residents to Fish, Swim, recreate and
socialize. The gated community
proposed by Bechtel will effectively close this area to the Bahamian people.
The transfer of these lands to a private for-profit entity violates our
fundamental right of access to the waters, shorelines, reefs, and fisheries.
Concerns Bechtel’s EIA Also Ignored important Health and Safety
The government consultants also faulted the Bechtel report for completely
ignoring “health and safety concerns” that will inevitably result as
conflicts arise between swimmers and divers on one of New Providence’s most
heavily utilized reefs and beaches and intense boat traffic that will occur
after channels are blasted to accommodate Bechtel’s new deep channels,
individual boat ships and marina.
The Bechtel Development Will Destroy invaluable Cultural Treasures.
Finally, Clifton is the site of a number of our nation’s most important
cultural treasures including the largest Lucayan archaeological site ever
discovered, the oldest building in the Bahamas and an important slave plantation
and church. The government and
public should have the opportunity to review and comment on any development plan
that might destroy or disrupt these sites. According to the government’s study. Bechtel has not adequated addressed its projects impacts to
these national treasures.
Bechtel Report is inadequate and Untruthful.
The Government Should Require Bechtel to Produce an Authentic EIA.
The government’s scientific consultants concluded a“ the EIA lacks
sufficient detail to properly evaluate the coastal/marine impacts and the
proposed mitigation of those
impacts. Accordingly, in its
present form, the proposed development does not adequately protect those marine
and shoreline natural resources. Numerous issues including
socioeconomic, health, safety and welfare. Public access and use were either not addressed at all or
only briefly mentioned. The report
exhibits inconsistencies, lack detail and lack supporting information. These limitations preclude evaluation of what
level of development may be acceptable.”
On behalf of the Clifton park Committee, I am requesting that you require
Bechtel to perform a thorough and true environmental impact assessment of the
Clifton Cay proposal including science based examination of the costs and
benefits of the current configuration on the existing community, safety, walfare
and property values and on the regional ecosystem surrounding Clifton.
As your own consultants have found, the Bechtel EIA is severely
deficient in the most basic respects and is useless as a tool for assessing the
true impacts of the project. Therefore
it would be imprudent for the government to allow Bechtel to proceed with this
project without first requiring it to truthfully disclosed the project’s
potentially catastrophic to the government and to the Bahamian people and to
mitigate these costs wherever possible.
Clifton has existed for tens of thousands of years and has been utilized
by the public for hundreds. We
should not rush into a deal that may cause irreparable harm to our nation and
people without first taking a hard look before we leap. A hasty deal may leave us with long-term cost that far exceed
the short-term benefits of the current Bechtel project. Bahamians do not want a transaction that will trade higher
standards of living for a few foreign millionaires for lower quality of life for
the Bahamian public.
can be of help to you. Please let
us know how.