Young: No knowledge of Sandals meeting
Minister of Communications and National Security, Stuart Young, said he had no knowledge of a meeting with Sandals, after claims via social media that representatives from the Sandals Resort were arriving in Tobago for a meeting this week.
Speaking on Thursday's post-Cabinet meeting, Young said the rumours appeared to be more mischief. He said he would contact Sandals to see if there was any truth to these reports.
“I don’t know where this came from, there is no Sandals meeting taking place here today, I think that’s just a lot of mischief.
“I don’t know if there are any Sandals private jets in Tobago, but as soon as the meeting has been confirmed, we’re going to have a press conference, we will notify you all as we have done in the past,” he said.
Questions were raised regarding a pending meeting with Sandals, with comments made via social media that a decision would be made regarding the progress of the project.
Environmental groups and other stakeholders have raised objections over the site of the project, which is located next to two internationally protected Ramsar sites, the Buccoo Reef and the Bon Accord Lagoon.
Young admitted to media in a press conference in November 2018 that the project, which entails over 900 rooms near Sheerbird's Point, also known as No Man’s Land, involves the removal of mangroves, which are critical for the survival of the lagoon and reef.
Due to action filed by activist Afra Raymond under the Freedom of Information Act, government revealed details of a Memorandum of Understanding with Sandals days before they were ordered to do so by the court.
Sandals initially denied preparing drawings which circulated via social media showing overwater structures along No Man’s Land but later adjusted these statements to say that the drawings had been submitted without their knowledge.
An application for a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) has been filed to the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) which has requested additional information about the project.
Sandals said however that the plans submitted in the CEC application are just a rough draft and would be subject to change if so required by the EMA.
As per the CEC application, the project listed several details about the project as follows:
- Five-star development consisting of 925 rooms in two resorts, 25 restaurants, four jetties, two of which lead to over water rooms and one over water chapel. The entire project should take up over 260 hectares.
- Constructed wetland and lakes, boardwalks and equestrian trails, roads, walkways, drainage, beach nourishment and protection
- Overwater buildings which extend from No Man’s Land out into the sea
- 17 percent of the land will be converted to covered space and paved areas (excluding the golf course)
- Estimated water consumption of 2,000 cubic metres per day
- Estimated solid waste production of 100 metric tonnes per day, to be disposed of at the Studley Park Landfill or recycled
- Estimated wastewater production of 1,850 cubic metres (over 500,000 gallons) per day, to be treated at the WASA southwest Tobago water treatment facility
- Project lists construction activities such as clearing, cutting, excavation and grading of the land.
- Intended commencement by January 2019.
Buccoo Reef, Bon Accord Lagoon protected by Ramsar Convention
The Buccoo Reef and the Bon Accord Lagoon have been declared internationally as environmentally sensitive sites which contain sensitive species including coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove forests. The lagoon is also home to the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle and at least 119 fish species.
The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.