On March 26th, the partners of the Stop Disney – Last Chance for Lighthouse Point campaign wrote to the Bahamian Minister of the Environment requesting an extension of the process for public review of Disney’s long-awaited Environmental Impact Assessment for their proposed cruise port at Lighthouse Point.
The groups emphasize that the Government of The Bahamas needs to provide more information about how the process will proceed. There is no information available about the agenda for the April 8th meeting on the EIA, which was announced by the Ministry on March 18th. There is also no information available about how the process will proceed following the April 29th deadline for public comments. They wrote in their letter: “we cannot conduct a meaningful review of the EIA without a fully transparent public consultation process.”
Rashema Ingraham, Executive Director, Waterkeepers Bahamas, added: “The government has provided virtually no information about the public consultation process, leaving us completely in the dark as to how the entire public consultation process for this project is managed, which would also include clear outcomes of and between the Ministry and Disney before and after any public meetings. The Government and Disney need to clearly lay out the plan here.”
Joseph Darville, Executive Director, Save the Bays, added: “This is a major decision for Eleuthera and for The Bahamas; we need to make sure this is a good deal. In order to do so, we need a full and transparent public consultation process that not only ensures that we can adequately comment on the EIA, but also that those comments will be addressed.”
Casuarina Mckinney-Lambert, Executive Director, BREEF, added: “There are huge gaps of missing information in the EIA document, particularly regarding the economic analysis and the impacts of this proposed cruise port on commercially important and endangered land and sea species. Disney must be required to take all public comments into consideration, and then resubmit a final EIA with supplemental studies to address all concerns raised in the public consultation process.”
The letter reiterated the groups’ previously suggested timeline and stated that the government needs to give a 90-day comment period. Sam Duncombe, Executive Director, reEarth, stated: “This EIA is more than 550 pages and took three years for Disney to put together. The government has given us just over 30 days, which is nowhere near enough time to sufficiently review the document and provide comments. We need a minimum of 90 days.”
“Disney claims it has a strong commitment to science, sustainability, and engagement with stakeholders,” added Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Yet at Lighthouse Point, Disney appears to be determined to ram through a fundamentally flawed 551-page Environmental Impact Assessment for its proposed cruise port with too little time and opportunity for meaningful public participation.”
* Photo By Shane Gross