Environmental activists have threatened the Abaco Club at Winding Bay with a legal challenge to an expansion project that “will completely alter the character” of one of the island’s most picturesque communities.
Fred Smith QC, in a letter sent to Prime Minister Perry Christie and copied to other government officials, alleged that the Winding Bay-based development and the administration had been less than transparent over the former’s plans for Little Harbour.
The letter sent on behalf of Responsible Development for Abaco (RDA) warns that the organisation – which battled BEC’s Wilson City power plant – will launch Judicial Review proceedings in the New Year unless various government agencies supply it with information on the project by January 2, 2016.
Mr. Smith’s letters reveal that the controversy surrounds the Abaco Club’s plans to build a 44-slip private dock at Little Harbour, together with supporting facilities that include a supplies shop, private restaurant and 6,000 square foot covered parking lot.
He, and RDA, fear that if the project goes ahead it will completely change the environment and character of Little Harbour, a 50-home community that runs entirely off solar power.
Mr. Smith said all the economic benefits would accrue to a foreign developer and the Abaco Club’s homeowners, while the project will create just two jobs and the community’s “existing tourist business would be harmed”.
“The development will completely alter the character of Little Harbour, and will adversely impact its human and wildlife populations and the environment,” Mr. Smith wrote to the Prime Minister.
“Little Harbour itself is a small community which exists very largely ‘off grid’. It is accessed by an ‘unmade-up’ road. It is not connected to mains water or electricity, and has no public sewerage facilities.
“Residents and homeowners use solar energy, collect rainwater, and are particularly careful of their local environment. No doubt as a result, otherwise endangered wildlife such as green turtles, manatees and piping plovers are abundant in Little Harbour.”
Despite numerous requests Mr. Smith alleged that the Abaco Club’s new owners, and the Government, had been less than transparent about the proposed Little Harbour project.
He added that the EIA was eventually shared by the South Abaco District Council on September 28, 2015, with the Government and Abaco Club “still refusing to make it public”.
“The development as outlined by representatives of the Abaco Club at the town meeting on September 22, 2015, is substantially different from that originally set out in the EIA,” the QC wrote.
“In particular there is no mention in the EIA of a permanent generator, a reverse Osmosis desalination plant, or waste-treatment facility.
“The EIA is also substantially defective in numerous other ways which residents of Little Harbour could have pointed out if they had at any point been consulted.”
RDA and Little Harbour homeowners now “fear that work may begin imminently” on the project.
The developer had previously indicated it wanted to start construction work in October/November 2015.
Mr. Smith said the homeowners and residents of Little Harbour had not been properly consulted on the project, an issue on which he has succeeded with previous Judicial Review challenges on behalf of environmental activist groups.