Acting Prime Minister Shawn Edward has described it as erroneous, a media report that Saint Lucia faced losing its World Heritage status.
” I noticed there was a report in the media last week where the point was made that we were under threat of losing our World Heritage status, that is, the Piton Management Area. Let me say that information is erroneous,” Edward told reporters.
Last week’s television report said the proposed construction of a vacation home by Canadian Geoffrey Robillard on Gros Piton might cause Saint Lucia to lose its status.
The report featured a news clip from Housing Minister Richard Frederick speaking about the ‘predicament’ facing Saint Lucia ‘ in terms of the possibility of losing our World Heritage status’ being of utmost importance.
“There is no imminent threat to Saint Lucia – the heritage status that we currently enjoy,” Acting Prime Minister Shawn Edward said on the margins of Monday’s Cabinet meeting.
However, he spoke of the need to control development within the Piton Management Area (PMA).
Edward, responsible for Sustainable Development, recalled that a private land owner in the PMA wanted to embark on a project, which the government believed could affect the status Saint Lucia now enjoys.
He explained that the Cabinet of Ministers opposed the project.
Edward disclosed that the Development Control Authority (DCA) did not uphold the application for the development, and the matter went to court.
The Dennery North MP told reporters that the government was unsuccessful and has appealed the court decision.
He said even before the second hearing, the Saint Lucia Labour Party administration was consulting international partners to see what it could do to safeguard this country’s World Heritage status.
“This means a lot to Saint Lucia. This means a lot to the people of Soufriere and we will spare absolutely no effort to ensure that we preserve the heritage status that we currently enjoy,” Edward declared.
“We understand that a lot of the lands within the demarcated areas that constitute the PMA belongs to private owners and if it is that we have to acquire lands or do whatever is possible within the legal framework, we will do so,” he told reporters.
Edward said the priority of the Philip J. Pierre administration was to preserve at all costs the current UNESCO World Heritage status Saint Lucia enjoys.
He explained there was no battle with UNESCO.
“if there is a battle, it really is with the private property owners and it’s not really a battle. We have been speaking with them, trying to dissuade certain developments. But people have a right to resort to the courts to make their point,” Edward stated.
He expressed confidence that Saint Lucia would retain its World Heritage status for many years.