Following recent concerns expressed by several local and international organisations regarding the impact of a major tourism development on the Maria Islands Nature Reserve off the coast of St. Lucia, the island’s Office of the Prime Minister has responded with a press release, with assurances that the project is “sensitive to the principles of sustainable development which includes biodiversity preservation, environmental protection and respect for the eco-system.”
Significantly also, the Government notes that the proposed causeway will NOT be connected to the Maria Islands. Note that no Environmental Impact Assessment has yet been done. At the unveiling of Phase Two of the Pearl of the Caribbean project on March 9, St. Lucian Prime Minister Alan Chastanet called on St. Lucians to be “bold and courageous” in accepting the development. Chairman of Desert Star Holdings Caribbean Star (I cannot find a website, so no link here) and the China Horse Club Teo Ah Khing added that the project will enhance St. Lucia’s environment and “allow us to put ourselves on the world map for the international research of wild life.”
Below is the Government press release, posted on the St. Lucia Times website on April 13:
PRESS RELEASE – The Pearl of the Caribbean Project is one of the most adventurous and ambitious projects in the Caribbean, which is poised to make Saint Lucia an even more unique destination and create economic activity as never before seen in the south of the island.
In pursuance of this project the Government of Saint Lucia and the Master Developer, Desert Star Holdings Caribbean Limited (DSH), are committed to operating within the the laws of Saint Lucia and the project will be subject, as in all cases, to the requisite Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and the approval of the Development Control Authority (DCA).
The Government is also committed to undertaking the necessary studies, protecting and conserving the natural landscape of Saint Lucia and in particular the wildlife and marine life on Maria Islands. Contrary to some reports, the project is intended to enhance Saint Lucia’s natural assets, and is sensitive to the principles of sustainable development which includes biodiversity preservation, environmental protection and respect for the eco-system.
On March 9th 2017 the Government and Desert Star Holdings jointly unveiled the second phase of the project which is the proposed Southern Causeway, a reclaimed land site of between 150 to 200 acres in Vieux Fort near the Maria Islands.
The Government of Saint Lucia welcomes the ongoing discussion on the project in the public domain and hopes that the debate will continue in a manner where we can share concerns and ideas in a constructive way which does not harm our country’s image.
In order to assist discussions based on fact it is necessary that the Government share aspects related to the second phase of the project with Saint Lucians, as follows:
The Government and the Developer have agreed that the proposed Causeway will not be connected to Maria Islands and there will be a waterway separating Maria Islands from the Causeway. Meaning the two islands, Maria Major and Maria Minor, will remain detached from the development.
Artist Rendering: The drawings shown at the March 9th 2017 ceremony are a preliminary artist impression and the concept is still being refined and changed in this ongoing exercise as the developer undertakes significant technical research on the area.
Studies: Several feasibility studies and tests will be done with renowned reclamation and environmental experts.
Communication: The Government has been open and remains open to receiving concerns from local and foreign agencies associated with the project. The Government has along every step of the way shared information with the Saint Lucian public on the status of the different phases of the project.
Protocols: Based on the developer’s well-respected track record the Government is convinced and the developer has committed to using the most up to date Environmental Protocols and innovation to facilitate the causeway and ensure it does not harm the current environment. Saint Lucia also has laws and rules which govern proposed developments which must be adhered to.
Detailed Research on Existing Wildlife and Marine Life: The Government and the developer will work with various agencies to do detailed research on all the existing wildlife and marine life around and on the islands.
Access & Participation: Part of the Causeway will belong to Saint Lucians and Saint Lucians will be allowed access to beaches built along the Causeway.
The Government of Saint Lucia also hopes that the proposed Southern Causeway and overall the Pearl of the Caribbean will:
- Bring attention to the unique features of Vieux Fort and the potential for further local and foreign investment.
- Increase economic activity in the South through the creation of jobs and potential for the development of linkage companies and industries.
- Provide opportunities for young school leavers to gain training in unique industries.
- Bring international attention to the Maria Islands and the unique flora and fauna which currently exists, thereby making the islands the center of attraction for environmental and eco-system research.
The Government of Saint Lucia reiterates that it will operate within the laws of Saint Lucia and we are open to working with all agencies on ensuring that the Pearl of the Caribbean project is successful, not just in implementation, but in contributing to enhancing the current natural environment that we all treasure now and for generations to come.