Environmental charities said on Wednesday that they were considering their options after the home affairs minister confirmed a decision to allow a controversial quarry operation in a sensitive area.
Alana Anderson, the president of the Bermuda National Trust, and Karen Border, the president of the Bermuda Audubon Society, said they were “extremely disappointed” by Walter Roban’s decision to allow a commercial quarry on Judkin Lane in Hamilton Parish.
The quarry proposal, approved by the Development Applications Board last October, sparked opposition and was appealed by the BNT.
However, Mr Roban confirmed the DAB decision last week, despite a recommendation by an independent inspector hired by the Government who said permission should be withdrawn.
The charities said in a joint statement: “In spite of the inspector’s recommendation to overturn the board’s decision to approve the quarry development, the minister has upheld the board’s position and the BNT, with the support of the BAS, is considering its options.”
They added: “This decision overturns the protection of Bermuda’s open space afforded by the Bermuda Plan 2019 and would result in the permanent destruction of a large section of woodland on a highly visible hillside in an area of significant environmental value.”
The groups said the Government should create a long-term plan for roofing slate to be provided from “acceptable development zones”.
The statement said: “The current approach is too damaging to our long-term future.”
It added: “The ongoing piecemeal loss of Bermuda’s places of natural beauty, so essential to the wellbeing of the entire community, including our tourism product, is alarming.
“It flies in the face of the growing global understanding that we must do more, not less, to protect woodlands as part of the global fight against climate change.”
Mr Roban said in a four-page letter sent to the BNT last week that he was satisfied that the planning assessment was carried out “in accordance with the statutory procedures and development plan policies”.
He added: “I am not persuaded, on balance, that the quarry operations of a short duration, in this case for one year, would be detrimental to the degree suggested by the appellant and the inspector.”
Mark Hornell, the independent planning inspector, wrote in his 20-page report: “I believe that it is reasonable to conclude that the board decision to approve the application for a proposed commercial excavation for the quarrying of roof slate is not supported by the information and planning assessment presented by the Department of Planning.”
The BNT and BAS said they were “pleased” with Mr Hornell’s report. The quarry application for the land, owned by Nelson Cordeiro, was made by quarry operator Shawn Perott.
A separate planning application for a building permit to construct a house and apartment on the land, along with a garage, pool and deck, was also made.
The application for the house is still under review.