The only difference with the DLP government passing this “urban corridor” instead of the BLP government is that now the DLP friends will profit from the move instead of the BLP friends.
CLICO Will Develop On The Natural Heritage Conservation Area – With Prime Minister Thompson’s Blessing
One of the first actions taken by the Thompson DLP Government in the weeks after they won the January 2008 election was to reclassify a huge section of land at Graeme Hall from “Open space, Agricultural, Recreational Buffer” to “Residential & Urban Corridor” – a term that was invented to sound non-threatening to the government-owned open space and recreational lands at Graeme Hall.
Corridor? Have a look at the map above. See the huge area outlined in red that is north of the “OS2 Natural Heritage Area”… THAT is the area that Prime Minister David Thompson and his DLP government changed so they can sell it off to their friends for development – contrary to the National Physical Development Plan that was ratified by Parliament in 1988.
The BLP Arthur/Mottley government wanted to do that too, but they never had the political capital to change the official land use designation. The BLP tried to lease some of the north area out for the Caribbean Splash Waterpark, but a rebellion of voters made them stop. Thompson and the DLP went right ahead though as just about the first thing they did after being elected. They still haven’t fulfilled their integrity legislation promises, but by God they sure acted quickly when they saw the chance to turn a profit from public lands!
Over 25 years ago that open space was set aside for the recreational pleasure of future generations as a plan to protect the last remaining green space between the airport and the city. Land use planners in the Barbados Town and Country Development Planning Office collaborated with professional land use planners from the United Nations to recommend a large green space buffer between the two urban areas of Greater Bridgetown and Oistins.
This recommendation was ratified by Parliament as part of the 1988 National Physical Development Plan and it was clear and unambiguous:
“The Graeme Hall agricultural area is proposed to be preserved as an open space break separating the urban zones of Oistins and Greater Bridgetown.”
“….The Graeme Hall area is proposed to be maintained as an agricultural area and as an urban open space in order to create an environmental break between the two urban areas. Parts of the open spaces are proposed to be used for sports and recreational purposes.”
Powerful Entities Want To Possess And Profit From This Public Land!
Prime Minister Thompson and the DLP are pulling a fast one on the people of Barbados. The area they have just changed to allow development at Graeme Hall is currently owned by the people of Barbados. Thompson and the DLP will be selling the land to their developer friends. Heck, maybe they will sell it to themselves or to companies owned by their wives and relatives – after all, there is no law against such unethical insider trading in Barbados!
CLICO In The Mix
Look at the lower left corner of the map and you’ll see a chunk of land right next to the Nature Sanctuary and the RAMSAR wetlands. That land is owned by CLICO, but for some reason it wasn’t included in the area designated as protected under the RAMSAR wetlands treaty. Prime Minister David Thompson just gave ten million to his good friend and CLICO CEO Leroy Parris, but I guess it never occurred to Thompson to get a little something in return for the people of Barbados… like land for the Graeme Hall National Park.
Why That Open Space & Recreation Buffer Matters
The area that Prime Minister Thompson and his developer friends want to build on is part of the Graeme Hall watershed. Without that area, the RAMSAR protected wetlands at Graeme Hall will die. It is the DLP Government’s plan to end up with a small bit of green space surrounded by housing and condos. CLICO will develop their current land and friends of government will develop that huge valuable piece of prime Barbados real estate that Thompson has chopped off the proposed Graeme Hall National Park.
Declaring the Graeme Hall National Park would legally protect the last mangrove forest, the last major wetland, the largest inland lake, and the most concentrated biodiversity in Barbados. It would provide an easily accessible park area for the enjoyment of all and would be a lasting legacy to future generations – a refuge from the tightly-packed urban living that is crawling across this small island with a speed never before seen.
The great cities of the world are great in part because they are not mile after mile of urban development and nothing else. The leaders and visionaries of New York City set aside Central Park over a hundred years ago. Think what a concrete jungle that city would be without Central Park.
Think of what Barbados will be in 100 years – or 30 years – or even 10 – if everything is done for profit and nothing is done for quality of life and the future.
NEXT In This Series: How the Barbados News Media Pushes The Government’s Agenda To Develop The Graeme Hall Public Lands
Graeme Hall National Park Land Use Conflicts Q&A (pdf here)
Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Press Centre (link here)