The Vieux Fort Concerned Citizens Coalition for Change (VFCCCC), has described the $US 2.6 billion Desert Star Holdings Limited (DSH) project in the South of Saint Lucia as ‘frightening’, and has called for a better deal to be negotiated.
An online petition launched by the group to halt the project said given the nature, scope and scale of this DSH Project, its impacts and effects on the physical environment, especially the sensitive coastal ecosystems, residential communities, existing business operations, current eco-tourism ventures and traditional livelihoods, will be drastic, enormous and long-term.
“In effect all the available productive, commercial, touristic and community-development lands will be given away to one Master Developer for 99 years at US$1 per acre!” According to the petition.
It noted that this would leave no space for alternative developments in the area by other developers, both foreign and local, and the expansion of the town of Vieux-Fort and surrounding communities.
The VFCCCC petition observed that terms and conditions of the DSH Project have not been publicized by the Government of Saint Lucia nor has the Government held any discussion, dialogue or consultations with Saint Lucian nationals and in particular the residents of Vieux-Fort who will be most directly affected by the Project.
The petition by the concerned group stated that notwithstanding the claim made in the Framework Agreement the Project will lead to “significant job creation and retention”, the residents of Vieux-Fort and other citizens of Saint Lucia find that the Terms and Conditions of the DSH are outrageous, frightening and an insult to their collective intelligence, vision and aspirations.
“What is even more disturbing is that there is a haste to amend Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) Legislation to meet the outrageous demands of this Master Developer,” the petition said.
It appealed to Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and other members of his Cabinet to stop all work on the project immediately and to engage the residents of Vieux-Fort and all affected parties in discussions, negotiations and engagements with a view to producing a better deal for Saint Lucia.
The petition said that the better deal must be built upon the wise use of this country’s scarce productive and investment lands.
It stated that the deal must also include the preservation of Saint Lucia’s patrimony, the conservation and protection of sensitive coastal environmental resources and the maintenance of traditional livelihoods and recreational areas.
The government signed an agreement with the Hong Hong registered Desert Star Holdings in July last year for the project, with the initial phase of the project slated to begin this year.
The agreement covered the construction of a race course, a free trade zone, a shopping mall complex, marina and other facilities on 700 acres of land in the South of Saint Lucia.