Royal Gazette: Environmental groups oppose car park at Southlands
Environmental groups have launched formal objections in an effort to halt the construction of a parking lot and events lawn on a national park.
The Bermuda Audubon Society and the Bermuda National Trust have objected to the proposal’s use of the southeastern corner of the Southlands National Park – which is zoned a woodland reserve — and urged the Development Applications Board reject it.
The plan is intended to support the neighbouring Bermudiana Beach Resort as well as improve public access to Southlands.
The application stated: “Given that the hotel site was originally constructed for residential use only, various hotel function aspects could not be incorporated on the site, and this includes a formal outdoor events venue.
“The proposed events lawn is an integral component of the hotel use, while the parking area will be accessible to the public for accessing Southlands Park and Beach.
“Currently, all park and beachgoers park along South Road, creating safety issues in some instances.”
The Bermuda Audubon Society said it remained strongly opposed to any development in that section of the parkland.
“Bermuda’s iconic and beautiful South Shore ‘golden mile’ starts at the boundary of Bermudiana Beach Resort and the Southlands Park and should not be compromised for the benefit of a commercial development,” the organisation said.
“Effective conservation efforts for the retention of the cliff area along the shoreline dictates no structures within the coastal setback, which was implemented to protect Bermuda’s vulnerable coast.
“The bay grape trees on the top of the site at present are good stabilisers of cliff-top environments and should not be disturbed. Casuarina is known to set roots down into the limestone and are often the reason cliffs are cleaved away in high winds and storms.
“Allowing development in the vicinity of eroding cliffs in the face of sea level rise and increased intensity and frequency of storms is irresponsible.”
While the charity accepted that there was a need for parking to support the park and the beach, it said the southwestern end of the Southlands property would be better suited for amenities.
“This area is already clear of native and endemic plantings, offers a panoramic view of South Shore and has existing concrete pad and utility connections to develop park amenities without disrupting nature,” the charity said.