Area residents petitioned Government to block Mr. Thomas’ proposal for an upscale, Mediterranean-style, oceanfront bar and restaurant at one of Bermuda’s most iconic beaches. Environmentalists led by BEST also mounted a vigorous campaign against the plan.

On August 4, 2010, Justice Ian Kawaley quashed then-Environment Minister Glen Blakeney’s decision allow a beach bar to be built on Warwick Long Bay. The Minister’s decision came after the Development Applications Board refused the application.

In October 2010, BEST released a statement saying “The Bermuda Environmental & Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) has become aware that Mr. Belcario Thomas has re-submitted his application for a beach bar and restaurant at Warwick Long Bay,” contuining on to say that “BEST has already received calls and visits from area residents and interested parties who are utterly astonished that this scheme is resurfacing.”

The full statement  released by BEST today follows below:

Warwick Long Bay Beach Bar refused again

BEST has received formal notice that the application from Belcario Thomas to construct a beach bar at Warwick Long Bay has been refused. This application has been made and refused before. The Development Applications Board (DAB) listed the following reasons for the repeat refusal.

  • The application was incomplete. For example, no details were submitted about the design and appearance of the buildings and canopies, and no construction methodology was submitted for installation or removal (remember, the structure was promoted as being “temporary”).
  • Parking was limited and consequently patrons would create congestion and interfere with public access to the beach. Insufficient parking and maneuvering space has been provided for vehicles.
  • The development is incompatible with the quality, character and function of Warwick Long Bay park.
  • The proposal doesn’t meet the objectives and purposes of Bermuda’s National Parks Act and would have a detrimental impact on the natural and visual quality of the area.
  • The proposal is NOT essential to the maintenance, conservation, enhancement or enjoyment of the park.

The public is probably unaware that this application is not materially different from the one that was rejected in 2008. It was most astonishing that the then Environment Minister allowed an appeal, overturning the considered decision of the DAB and the advice of the Planning Inspector all the while having full knowledge that the application was incomplete and inadequate, and that it a) disregarded the unavoidable harmful environmental impact and b) discounted the legal safeguards put into place to protect parklands from developments like this.

In addition to wasting the time of many members of the public and of Planning and other environmental officers hired for their expertise, this exercise has cost the public upwards of $500,000 in internal legal expenses, and an unknown amount in the hundreds of thousands in yet-to-be-assessed legal costs.

We trust that the DAB’s repeat of its refusal decision will put an end to this misguided attempt to improve Bermuda’s tourism product.

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