On December 14th, the Last Chance for Lighthouse Point campaign partners sent a letter to the Bahamian Minister of the Environment and Housing and the top environmental official at the Walt Disney Company demanding clarity on the future of Disney’s proposed cruise ship port at Lighthouse Point.
There is mounting uncertainty about if and when the project will proceed, particularly in light of the recent retirement of Joe Rohde, Disney’s chief designer for the project. Rohde reportedly retired because he did not want to wait for the apparently stalled project to begin. Also, Disney’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project was submitted to the Ministry for review more than eight months ago, but there is no publicly available information yet as to when it will be released for review and public consultation.
The environmentalists’ letter states: “Meanwhile the people of Eleuthera are suffering from high unemployment and food insecurity. They need to know whether this project is still even feasible in light of the new realities and challenges the world is facing. The people of the Bahamas need to know whether Disney is serious about helping the Bahamas to build back better by being transparent and committed to meaningful public engagement.”
Sam Duncombe, Executive Director, reEarth, added: “Disney needs to decide if they are going to be a part of the solution. While Disney purports to respect the Bahamian environment, they have not responded to efforts by the Bahamian environmental community to engage with their EIA. The world is watching Lighthouse Point. Our campaign now has more than 433,000 supporters — more than the total population of The Bahamas. Disney needs to re-imagine a positive and sustainable project at Lighthouse Point.”
Casuarina Mckinney-Lambert, Executive Director, BREEF, added: “The Bahamas is struggling to recover from the devastation caused by last year’s Hurricane Dorian and now from the pandemic. We need sustainable, equitable, and long-term investments that help to support and rebuild the economy of Eleuthera and The Bahamas in a way that also takes into consideration the new world in which we live. Bahamians deserve answers from Disney and the Government about Lighthouse Point.”
Joseph Darville, Executive Director, Save the Bays, added: “Disney has not provided public updates on the project, and our colleagues on Eleuthera have not observed any further activity at the site since last March. We have been very disappointed in Disney and the Government. They need to start to be transparent and inclusive in its deliberations about this project which now seems more uncertain than ever.”
Rashema Ingraham, Executive Director, Waterkeepers Bahamas, added: “Disney needs to take its responsibilities to the people of The Bahamas seriously, including being transparent about its plans for Lighthouse Point. It is not too late for Disney to change course and work with the local communities and environmentalists to develop a sustainable alternative for Lighthouse Point.”
Marc Yaggi, Executive Director, Waterkeeper Alliance added: “We expect better from Disney, which is a major multinational corporation and perhaps the world’s leading communicator on wildlife and nature. The story so far of Disney Cruise Line at Lighthouse Point is at odds with the company’s proclaimed commitment to environmental protection.”