Mottley says Hyatt environmental study must be done

Barbados Today:–  Prime Minister Mia Mottley says a full environmental impact study must be conducted before any construction can begin on the proposed 15-storey Hyatt Hotel on Bay Street, St Michael.

In fact, she has already made it clear to the investors that they should proceed with the environmental impact study regardless of the outcome of the court case brought by social activist and attorney-at-law David Comissiong.

“We have said to them that as far as we are concerned you will be tied up in court for the longest time if you don’t do the studies, so you have a commercial decision to make. You could as well do the studies because you the run the risk that the court may say that the studies are necessary and that left to me I would advise you to do the studies. Get them out of the way, if there are issues that preclude it then you know up front, if there are issues that can be addressed but allow you to proceed with the investment then you know up front.”

The construction of the mega hotel project has been stalled since Comissiong filed a judicial review against the decision by former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to approve an application for permission filed by Mark Maloney to construct the hotel on beachfront on the Bay Street without an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

In response, Stuart filed a lawsuit challenging Comissiong’s right to bring the case but in December last year Supreme Court Justice Sonia Richards ruled in Comissiong’s favour.

Prime Minister Mottley, who was speaking during an interview with veteran journalist David Ellis this evening, maintained that if the Government had conducted the necessary studies there would have been no basis for a court case.

She said the EIA would entail a social impact assessment, a heritage impact assessment, as well as an analysis of the impact of sewage from the project, given the current problems at the Bridgetown Sewerage Plant.

“And then also the impact of piling, depending on the height of the building and what will be the impact of on the church [Bethel Methodist Church] and the Empire Theatre and so on. So those things have to be done and have to be done quickly.”

She also noted that the Harbour Police site was a critical part of the development and has proposed that “30 to 35 per cent of the investment be made available to the Barbadian public so they too can participate in the investment”.