Maintain local rights and promote sustainable development! Save our Coast!
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Maintain local rights and promote sustainable development! Save our Coast Cas-en-Bas to Pointe Hardy.
In this petition we address the impending development by Cabot Saint Lucia (a company of Cabot golf courses, Canada) in the north-east coast of Saint Lucia from Cas en Bas to Pointe Hardy.
We propose this area, of unique environmental and historical heritage and multiple community uses be designated as a National Park with appropriate eco-friendly development, therefore:
WE PETITION that Government of Saint Lucia and developers of the proposed Cabot Saint Lucia Golf Course & Resort give immediate attention to
1. Preserving the access and rights of local users, which precede and should override those of any new, proposed development usage. These rights are enshrined in Queens Chain laws. We demand that the Government of Saint Lucia ensure local access and usage are preserved in perpetuity with minimal disturbance.
2. Safeguarding the important biodiversity of the land, coast and sea in the area, ensuring by legal obligations that any development must prove absolute minimum harm will come to existing flora, fauna and sea-life during land preparation, construction and for the lifetime of the development.
3. Immediately initiating and supporting a full archaeological study, followed by establishment of correct and sustainable measures to preserve the entire Amerindian settlement and burial ground and any other archaeological assets discovered on the site.
The above to be fulfilled with the participation and under the guidance of the relevant NGOs, community of users and technical advisors(i).
Your support of this petition indicates agreement that starting with this development, we urgently need to change the approach and assumptions in the way we should achieve development of Saint Lucia.
We, the undersigned, recognise the challenges in developing our Small Island State of Saint Lucia, especially the challenges in building resilience of and for our people, places and business in an increasingly competitive and hostile world environment.
We recognise the dire need for employment for significant numbers, especially youth, and that our current rate of unemployment is over 20%, youth unemployment being over 35%.
Notwithstanding, we also recognise the real necessity for decent work(ii) and meaningful livelihoods. A nation without prospects for improved quality of life, cannot prosper. There is need for suitable jobs with terms and prospects that will reduce the excessive brain-drain affecting Saint Lucia and truly contribute to an independent, resilient Saint Lucia.
Rights of Existing Users
The area from Cas en Bas, north to Pointe Hardy has been freely accessible to the public for well over 40 years, with paths, beaches, and open areas frequented by recreation seekers - locals and tourists alike and used by commercial and subsistence businesses.
In recent years, tracks created by the subsequently abandoned “Raffles” golf course development, enabled increased usage without restriction. Significant use was permitted and never challenged for decades, thereby not only cementing existing right of access to beaches and adjoining coastal areas within the “Queen’s Chain” (i.e., to 186.5 ft above the high watermark) but further inland.
This area is regularly used for (among other):
- Community recreation - bathing, beach gatherings, fishing, hiking, camping;
- Two kitesurfing businesses;
- A locally owned restaurant & bar, with related vendors;
- Paintball business;
- Horse riding and related grazing extending inland to the western limits of the area;
- Seine net fishing, spearfishing, pot fishing;
- Hiking, running, biking tours;
- School geography /ecology field trips;
- Weddings and special occasion celebrations;
- Photo shoots;
- Occasional larger-scale events.
We believe the assumption that indigenous(iii), local traditional and pre-existing users and their descendants have no right to continue in scope and type of customary usage when a proposed development is being considered, can be legally challenged in relation to the spirit of the Queen’s Chain laws(iv), and is ethically, socially, and morally wrong.
We contend that new users (e.g., large-scale developers), should be required to fit in harmoniously with customary uses, not, as has become the norm, that local-user access becomes compromised or made untenable due to such developments.
New developments should not cause the demise of existing local business and should not restrict the usage rights or privileges of local users. Neighbouring communities must be consulted as part of the early decision-making process. Otherwise this practice contradicts principles of sustainable development to which Saint Lucia has committed.
Safeguarding National Environmental Resilience
The diversity of this landscape cannot be overstated. The ecosystems that exist in this area are unique in many ways. There are areas of dense growth of at least four types of Caribbean cacti (of which the rare endemic Melocactus intortus was decimated almost to extinction in the previous land clearance), wild Frangipani, the rare heritage seed ‘Wawi’, Caesalpinia bonduc, and several other endemic and rare flora.
This unique flora and landscape host many nesting and feeding birds, large numbers of butterflies, dragonflies and other insects. The area provides breeding grounds for hermit crabs, an efficient natural control for the invasive African snail and host many other crabs. Whelks and clams are prodigious and the beaches are important nesting grounds for endangered turtles. The rocky patch reefs and sea-grass beds are important nursery grounds for lobster, sea urchins, coral and coastal pelagic and off-shore fish.
Issues relating directly to development as a golf course include but are not limited to:
- Water consumption - estimates in region of 100-300,000 gallons / day for the course plus extra for the resort in a water-starved area and island where locals regularly endure severe water shortages.
- Desalination - impacts of brine disposal and energy supply.
- The effects of pesticides on wildlife, surrounding beaches and sea-life.
- Landscaping’s affect on natural flora and fauna.
We contend that the development of a golf course will irreparably impact the critical coastal marine ecosystems and vital biodiversity of this area, and that such degradation contravenes Saint Lucia’s commitment to achieving environmental and climate change resilience, biodiversity protection and sustainable development.
Historical & Cultural Heritage
Lastly, but certainly not least, this area is recognised as a site of immense archaeological importance to the history of the Caribbean region. Artifacts have been found throughout the area and significantly, in 2009, sacred Amerindian burial ground and ancient settlement were discovered by the Saint Lucia Archaeological & Historical Society and researchers from the Leiden University in The Netherlands. Lack of funding meant that the site was left intact but unsecured and now suffers from degradation due to traffic and erosion from exposure and encroaching seas.
This contravenes the various UNESCO heritage conventions and agreements Saint Lucia has signed, ratified and aligned with(vi).
We contend our archaeological patrimony must be preserved and respected in a manner chosen by local experts and community and for the benefit of the local community.
(i)Saint Lucia National Trust; Saint Lucia Archaeological Society; et al.
(ii)“Decent work” involves opportunities for work that are productive and deliver a fair income, security in the workplace, social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organise and participate in the decisions that affect their lives, and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men. https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/decent-work/
(iii)“Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. UN definition
(iv)Queen’s Chain and the inalienable right of public access is enshrined in Volume 1 of the revised Land Laws of Saint Lucia 1957.
The Saint Lucia National Land Policy 2007, Pg.15, stipulates it will work “… in collaboration with all stakeholders…” in “…formulation of a Queen’s Chain policy that: • clearly defines policies on public access; • defines priorities, guidelines and options for improved management; • provides specific land use and development regulations; • allocates management authority according to primary land functions.”
(vi)UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage; UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage; Sustainable Development Goals
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