Hotel and Housing Development in Bermuda Raises Environmental Concerns

The Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) has concerns over a major housing and hotel development—the Grand Atlantic project, off South Shore Road in Warwick, Bermuda— due to unstable cliff faces and sea erosion. Although developers say foundations will be set 50 feet back from the cliff edge to ensure safety, many issues remain unresolved.

BEST’s Stuart Hayward explains that “Erosion along Bermuda’s coastline is a real concern and the entire South Shore is vulnerable.” He adds, “A comparison of old and new maps of the area suggest as much as 60 meters of erosion has occurred there over the past 200 years. A softer vein of limestone near the base of the cliff has hollowed out the cliff in many places, and sections of earlier development have already fallen victim to this. There are doubts that even a 50-foot setback will be sufficient.”

Hayward also says that this development does not fit in a reasonable concept of sustainable tourism: “Given that over the years Bermuda has managed to preserve and protect its coastline from encroachment by random developers, it is ironic that it is now Government spurring a housing development of this scale at the ‘gateway to the Warwick South Shore’ on land zoned for tourism and woodland reserve.” [Warwick is home to the South Shore National Park.]

As expected, developers do not agree and are trying to justify the project. Gilbert Lopes of GL Construction insists that a geo-technologist said that the housing development would not be in danger if built 50 feet back from the cliff’s edge but that “the hotel project will require some work before it is completed due to the density of the rock.” While he does not mention the danger to the cliff itself, Lopes insists that this is an important development for “the people who need affordable housing.” Although the project has been touted as an opportunity to provide low cost homes, Bermudans responding to the article have stated that “$500,000-650,000 for one or two bedrooms” can hardly be called affordable. Nothing was clearly stated about the irreparable damage to the cliff and shoreline.

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