Beaches Disappearing Near Mullins Bay Barbados – Why Does Government Allow The St. Peter’s Bay Condo Project To Destroy The Coast?

Mullins Beach: Going, Going...

Mullins Beach: Going, Going...

Our friends over at Mullins Bay Blog have been chiding us lately for not paying enough attention to the destruction occurring on the West Coast, and after some thought we have to plead guilty. Sometimes one gets caught up in life to the point where you forget about the basics. I think it’s called “the tyranny of the urgent over the important.”

Anyway, our thanks for the gentle reminder and we promise to pay more attention to the serious situation happening at Mullins Bay. We also promise to up the environmental stories content at BFP as we’ve let that slip lately too. In our defense, we point out that Barbados Free Press has been hammering integrity and accountability issues recently because the Barbados government’s refusal to enact and truly embrace ITAL (Integrity, Transparency and Accountability Legislation) has in large measure been responsible for the continuing CLICO debacle. (Our predictions about CLICO… You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, folks!)

Environmental Stories

We’ve been primarily focused upon two environmental stories from the South Coast: the Shell Oil leaky pipeline that contaminated soil and wells in the area, and the government’s changing of the law to allow their developer friends to build upon the Graeme Hall watershed – upon land that had been protected for the previous 30 years.

Both of these stories are, on the surface, all about environmental concerns – but if you look closer, you’ll find politics and money are always a big part of environmental controversies.

You know how it is folks… money changes everything.

Mullins Bay Destruction Not Just An Environmental Issue

And so you will find that the destruction of the beaches at Mullins Bay and nearby is not just an environmental issue. The story of Mullins Bay and the disappearing West Coast beaches is not a disagreement over environmental science by well-meaning people who all have the public good in mind. No sir.

The rape of our West Coast is all about corporations with money that have been allowed to do as they please by two successive governments. The St. Peter’s Bay condo developers were allowed by government to build groins to enhance their own beach — never mind the disastrous impact upon the neighboring beaches and coastline.

How much money did the condo developers provide in “campaign donations” to our two major political parties? Don’t ask! With no campaign financing laws, integrity legislation or conflict of interest laws — Barbados citizens are effectively kept in the dark.

Did the St. Peter’s Bay condo developers ever provide gifts or consulting contracts to personnel with the Coastal Zone Management Unit or the Town Planning Department? How about gifts or consulting contracts to government family members? Don’t ask! Barbados has no integrity and conflict of interest laws that prohibit government workers or elected representatives from accepting gifts from developers.

At Mullins Bay blog, the authors cannot ask such questions openly. They can and do ask why the Barbados government has allowed one developer to cause so much damage. They ask why the Minister of the Environment, Denis Lowe, hasn’t shown his face in the area. They ask why two successive governments have cared so little about the disappearing West Coast beaches.

At Barbados Free Press we say, “Follow the Money”

The story of the environmental rape at Mullins Bay and elsewhere on the West Coast is not just an environmental issue. It is also about fat cats in government failing to protect the public interest. It is about a Prime Minister and an Environment Minister who were concerned about environmental issues like Mullins Bay, the Graeme Hall wetlands and Shell Oil spills — only until they were elected.

How much did the St. Peters Bay condo developers donate to the DLP campaign.. and how has that impacted the government decisions at Mullins Bay? How much did Shell Oil donate to the DLP campaign… and how has that impacted the government decision not to side with the farmers? How much did CLICO donate to the DLP campaign… and how has that impacted the government decision to change the laws to allow development on the Graeme Hall watershed?

Yes my friends, there is much more to environmental issues than appears at first glance.

mullins bay damage

Educate Yourself On The Mullins Bay Area Issues

(Adapted from Mullins Bay Blog story – link here)

It is important that concerned locals and visitors to the area know precisely what is going on vis-a-vis beach erosion in the area so that they can articulate the issues intelligently and are not confused by the nonsense and non-science being put out by St. Peter’s Bay and sanctioned by people who should know better from the Coastal Zone Management Unit and the Town Planning Department, as if St. Peter’s Bay is in its own little vacuum.

Over the last three years this blogger has watched and chronicled here the systematic destruction of the beach and private property from the time the groins were installed. If you look at the area map supplied here yesterday,  you will notice that the devastated downdrift  areas start at Kings Beach Hotel which adjoins the southernmost of the three groins.  As this blog reported and documented with photos here, rows of coconut trees, guard walls, etc., were flattened at Kings Beach and the natural headland there was completely eroded particularly during storm events by powerful currents forced off the groins smashing the walls of the mouth of the canalized storm drain on the beach in the process, which drain was once several yards from the water’s edge.   Once the headland was eroded it was open season on the sandy beaches further south culminating in the damage reported in the Sunday Sun article two weeks ago.

“Any coastal structure designed to trap or hold sand in one location will, without question, deprive another area of that sand.  In simple terms, any structure (including terminal groins) that traps sand will cause erosion elsewhere.”

“Groins can impact nearshore circulation by directing currents offshore, especially during storms.”

Armouring the beach with rocks and boulders, while necessary as an emergency measure to prevent further loss and/or damage to private property, ultimately in and of itself does not bring back a sandy beach which is the best protection for the shoreline, as clearly reiterated in the above video.  As one New Zealand coastal engineer who learned of our plight via the Internet “tweeted” recently – “if the beach is eroding in the long term. placing rocks will most likely consign your sandy beach into history.”   A long term solution would therefore require: (1) the immediate removal of the offending groins at St. Peter’s Bay to give the beach a chance to recover and undo some of the damage already done; and, (2) a beach nourishment program implemented such as the one this blog suggested three years ago before we saw all of the accerated destruction in the area.

With all the ongoing erosion on the west coast, some of it no doubt probably related to climate change, government should have never given approval for three groins at St. Peter’s Bay. To put it mildly – it was a monumental environmental mistake (if indeed it was a mistake and nothing even more sinsiter). To continue to ignore the problem (where is the Minister of the Environment who promised to visit the area two weeks ago) will in the very short term mean kissing goodbye to Mullins Beach itself and tourism in the area – not to mention the total devastation and havoc it would visit on the local and adjoining communities.

Save Mullins Bay
Road View, St. Peter
Barbados
246-244-1885
savemullinsbay@gmail.com
http://twitter.com/savemullinsbay

32 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment, Nature, Real Estate, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

32 responses to “Beaches Disappearing Near Mullins Bay Barbados – Why Does Government Allow The St. Peter’s Bay Condo Project To Destroy The Coast?

  1. Thank you, BFP, for at last giving this matter the coverage it deserves. Your voice is much bigger than ours and hopefully together we can help awaken a sleeping nation to the enormity of the economic, ecological and environmental disaster that is imminently upon not just Road View/Mullins but also a large part of the west coast and inland areas across the country.

    We need the groynes at Road View removed and a program of beach nourishment (re-sanding) urgently implemented. We have all heard the stories about how the groynes really got approved, and we have all now seen the damage they can do and have done. What is needed now is for Coastal and Town Planning to climb down from their infallibility high horses and admit that they made a big mistake so that the long-term corrective measures can begin.

    Thanks again, BFP, you are forgiven. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King had to chide the Church for lagging behind the courts and the legislatures in the USA on Civil Rights too, you know.

  2. BFP

    Hello Friend

    Its not like we never mentioned Mullins Bay, but it has been a while. As we said on August 28, 2006 in our first article of five published since about Mullins Bay…

    “Sometimes I despair that our government will ever wake up to the fact that allowing huge corporations to do as they please with our natural resources is a prescription for disaster. Lately, we have been seeing more and more incidents of private developers selfishly building jettys and groins without a care in the world about the damage done to nearby beaches.”

    and…

    “…the Government of Barbados has created a double standard – setting aside the rule of law for the rich developers at the long-term expense of our natural resources.”

    Nothing much has changed. We assume that the developers provided financial support to the DLP as they did to the BLP in years past.

  3. Paradox

    BFP:
    ….”the Government of Barbados has created a double standard-setting aside the rule of law for the rich developers at the long-term expense of our natural resources.”
    Paradox >”To the detriment of the citizens of Barbados.”

    Save Mullins Bay:
    …”What is needed now is for the coastal and Town Planning to climb down from their infallibility high horses and…”

    In B’dos, has any ‘government or official’ ever been imprisoned?
    We have got short memories. Come election day, all will be forgotten and forgiven, and same all over again.
    Throughout the developing world, governments have failed to learn from the mistakes of those committed in the developed world who have made similar mistakes.
    Ideas of making a fast ‘buck’ have got in the way of commonsense.
    Today one should have seen the signs; with the speed of the Internet and other news media.

    However, the ‘buck’ has got in the way.

  4. Hants

    The west coast of Barbados has lost more than 50% of its Beaches in the last 50 years.

    Beach reclamation and restoration is now a major undertaking.100s of millions will have to be spent to restore the West coast beaches.

    Mullins is just one of many beaches that has been damaged.It is equally important that the adjacent beaches are restored as well.

    Barbados depends on SSS tourism. The Sun and the Sea is fine but the Sand is disappearing.This makes Beach restoration a very urgent issue.

    If I were the PM there would be no new construction on the beach front from Bridgetown to speightstown but Barbados is not Cuba.

  5. Actually koolbarbados has been going on about this for a while but it seems Baruban blogger Mave O’Darsden and BFP are in the midst of a contretemps? Thus slipping the radar ’til now?

    In fact, now that I am not in Gov’t I can afford to be a bit more boisterous about Graeme Hall to the South…

  6. Rumplestilskin

    Not wanting to be flippant, but I will say that the developers of ‘new’ properties involving much beachfront change, will feel the economic pinch themselves, in the maintenance cost of these properties.

    Do you really think that a couple of groynes can stop the sea recovering what is hers?

    Just watch what happens after the first real storm passes.

    Agreed, that other areas including Mullins will be hammered, there will be flooding in the area surrounding that new monstrosity, as has been already, but that building is itself VERY low-lying.

    Nevertheless, when the blogs were criticising the massive unsuitable development of the West Coast, all else were silent.

    No reporters (I still refuse to call them here journalists), no public or private sector agencies, nada.

    Yes, some may, rightfully or wrongfully have been afraid of the repercussions on their jobs.

    Wait thill the first real storm.

    Then you will really see the chickens roosting.

  7. The Oracle

    Rumplestilskin, you are correct – those groynes are going to come back to haunt St. Peter’s Bay one day, or at least, people who buy residences or vacations there. The beach where the groynes are located was known for its strange and sudden currents that have claimed a few lives over the years. If you talk to the locals you will hear the stories. Groynes and jetties are known to also produce their own dangerous “rip currents.” St. Peter’s Bay may have cooked up their own perfect storm waiting to happen.

  8. Hants

    The sea giveth and the sea taketh.
    The ediats will find out sooner or later.

  9. Yes, as a local I can confirm the general persecution that St. Peter’s Bay is being constructed on a very hazardous stretch of beach. I have heard of numerous persons getting into trouble while swimming there and as a wee little kid I saw the body of a young man on the beach who drowned there back in the late 1960s. It’s all getting a little fuzzy now but I believe two men actually drowned on that occasion – one was pulled from the sea on the day of the incident and the other (which I saw) was brought ashore by fishermen the following day. It think they came from the Grazettes/White Hall area in St. Michael on a church outing on a bank holiday.

    If you look at the pictures on St. Peter’s Bay website, you will notice that the northernmost groyne – http://www.stpetersbaybarbados.com/images/gallery/9.jpg – is actually built on a shoal where there are breakers. Again, as boys, that was one of the spots where we hulled and surfed. We used to call it “22” (can’t recall the reason why now), but when the seas were really breaking the only other shoal with bigger waves in the Mullins Bay area was “Long Shoal” at the southern end of Mullins Beach before you rounded to bend to Gibbes Bay. I know they are some pretty intrepid surfers these days but back then when the sea really got rough nobody ventured out at “22” or “Long Shoal.” When those waves come back and meet these groins “it will be hell to pay” as they say.

    The same thing happened in Speightstown where they ignored all the local folk-wisdom and built the jetty on an active shoal we used to call “Market.” Now it has been closed more often than it has been opened since every time we get “big seas” it sends parts of it flying into the ocean. I am not praying for it, nor wishing bad on anyone but we just know that St. Peter’s Bay is going to meet it comeuppance sooner or later. They have broken too many taboos, hurt too many people, and committed too many ecological and environmental sins for them to get away with it all.

  10. Hants

    Anyone who grew up on the West coast of Barbados knows that the beach changes with every rough sea.

    The problem is that so many property owners put boulders,groynes and walls in the sea that they have contributed to the massive erosion along the coast.

    Holetown has lost about 50 feet of beach in the last 30 years.
    People used to play beach cricket at Folkestone.

    It will be interesting to see what happens now they are building a beachhead at Holetown Cheffete.

    Beach restoration on the West Coast will cost millions of dollars and Government must do it because no beach no tourists.

  11. I think what we are saying in Road View/Mullins is – don’t wait until it gets like Holetown when it becomes a $7M (or whatever the final figure is) repair job. There are affordable steps government can take right now that will save the taxpayers tons of money and give tourists and locals a more natural beach experience. Boardwalks are nice but we do not need them going around the entire island.

    Up until recently tourists and locals alike could enjoy walking the beach from Speightstown to St. Alban’s without much of a hassle. Now, thanks to the thinking behind resorts like St. Peter’s Bay Villas, that is no longer possible. The only stretch of beach that they care about is the one immediately in front of them, and if they could lock out the rest of the world from it, there is no question in my mind they would do that also. Which, of course, begs the question – did they set about deliberately to destroy beaches south of their property. They had to know, or should have been told by the CZMU that what they were doing would do what it has now done – destroy beaches and private property in the downdrift to the south. What happened in Road View is not new, this is a battle that has gone on all over the world wherever people put down groynes. Now we have a situation that has been made worse now that what little beach we have left in Road View is now amoured with rocks consigning it to history.

    Mullins Beach (proper) is already being impacted by these groynes. Last year in March the beach bar’s deck was severely damaged by rough seas. I know people have strong feelings about the location and the locating of the beach bar, but it has existed there for decades without much of a problem until now. What has changed in the area – somebody went and put down groynes to hog the sand which is vitally necessary for the protection of the entire area.

    http://bit.ly/Yon16

  12. Nostradamus

    Is the area in question in St. Peter represented by the Member of Parliament for St. Peter?

    Maybe I missed it but I have not seen anything in the media about this representative meeting with constituents of the area affected. Was this member of Parliament not the former Minister responsible for Town Planning and would have had to have approved the groins at St.Peters Bay and be well informed about the process that led ot the approval?

  13. Hants

    The CZMU are best qualified to deal with these problems.

    Hopefully mother nature will be kind while they devise away to deal with the problems.

    These problems were caused by people like the millionaire crack heads who built a seawall, planted 10ft trees along the wall for privacy and destroyed their neighbours beach.

  14. Hants

    The former PM is now a “statesman” and is not likely to become involved.

  15. The Oracle

    Road View and Mullins fall in the constituency of St. James North which was and is currently represented by Rawle Eastmond of the BLP. I am not aware that he ever was the Minister of Planning.

  16. victor

    This is not news. Groyns have the same effect aII over the worId and in deveIoped countries they are now resisted. MeanwhiIe, the AtIantic is eating away at the East Coast. The IsIand is shrinking and the burden of buiIding is heIping it to do so.

  17. Apparently, groynes are the new fangle thing on the west coast. I have learned that Coral Reef Club which hasn’t had much of a beach for decades has also recently put down one and is having great results. This is very interesting in the light of an article in last Sunday’s Advocate in which of the only three areas on the entire island that Dr. Brewster from the CZMU could name as being impacted by the rough seas last month – two of them are on the west coast and both of them, Mullins and now Porters, have groynes.

  18. Hants

    Coral Reef Club did not have a beach back in the 1960’s. They had rocks in wire cages up to
    the water’s edge.

    If the have now used groynes to create a beach
    expect some serious damage to adjacent properties.

    In the 60’s I used to hull waves on church point shoal and
    in the clear bay south of Coral Reef Club.

    The waves and the currents were very powerful.
    It will be interesting to see what happens in the next year or two.

    I hope these people realise that when you create a one beach by their methods you lose a living reef and adjacent beaches.

    As a layman I can reasonably conclude that there must be a continuous comprehensive
    effort by CZMU to restore and protect the beaches of Barbados.

  19. Mike Ashby

    I’m am going to speak to this in a little more detail, but right now I want to jump off the foolish plank. Barbadians in general, and Bajan policy makers in particular are appear to be simply ‘PENNY WISE and POUND FOOLISH’. put another way, once they see 25 cents today it doesn’t matter the 25 dollars tomorrow. Maybe, this is a good time for Adrian L. to share his input.

  20. Mike Ashby

    O Hail! To the ‘Gated Communities’. Groynes are a type of engineered barrier that is supposed to aid in mitigating localized coastal erosion. The problem is that this is a man made structure which ultimately disrupts the natural processes within the near-shore coastal environment. Coastal processes occur in equilibrium, if the process is disrupted, the natural trend would be to re-acquire the state of equilibrium as quickly as possible.

    Groynes represent such a disruption. In this case, the state of equilibrium applies to the movement of sand along the shore line (a process known as alongshore drift; as shown in the picture provided by BFP, drift is from north to south). Because this is an equilibrium process based on rates of erosion vs rates of sedimentation, there is a FINITE amount of sand moving along the coastline at any given time.

    With the introduction(construction) of a barrier, the rate of sedimentation will increase in that area. That means, in order for equilibrium to be reestablished, the rate of erosion has to increase in another area, generally immediately downstream from the engineered structure. This is a function of ‘load’ and offshore configuration (I can explain this if necessary). As one area builds up, another larger area is destroyed. IN EVERY COUNTRY WHERE GROYNES HAVE BEEN USED, THEY HAVE EXACERBATED THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM. In this case, the interruption of sediment drift in the area of St. Peters Bay Villas will bring about increased erosion from the former Kings Beach Hotel south – pass Mullins Bay. 10 years will tell.

    This is where the administration of the CZMU comes in. the placement of engineered structures cannot be arbitrary. Since some environments are more fragile than others NOT EVERYBODY WHO WANT A 25 FEET BEACH FRONT CAN HAVE ONE, this WILL simply destroy the Barbados coastal environment. They (CZMU) should be using their know-how to locate these structures. It is mind-boggling to me how such basic management practices keep escaping our planners and policy makers. Apparently, this is decision-making based on a lack of knowledge. Ultimately, it is the areas that locals either owns or have access to for their recreation that is sacrificed and destroyed. It leave me wondering who really benefits from all the Sun, Sea and Sand.

  21. Very thoughtful and accurate outline of the problems created in Road View/Mullins Bay. It adds to the YouTube video linked on the Mullins Bay Blog – http://mullinsbay.blogspot.com/2009/05/educate-yourself-on-mullins-bay-area.html – which demonstrates how aloneshore drift works. The beaches south of the groynes were left denuded while north of the groynes a wide sandy beach has developed stretching as far as Cobblers Cove Hotel. The result was that in the two weeks of relentless waves kicked up by a storm system in the Atlantic last month there was nothing to protect the coastline to the south, hence the toppled trees, walls and volumes of soil five feet high washed out to sea.

    Every full-blooded Bajan should be justifiably outraged that this was allowed to happen, and it is time we did something about it:

    BBC NEWS | Technology | Twitter responds on Iranian role – http://shar.es/rLQP – lessons for #Barbados #environment. Please Retweet.

    Save Mullins Bay

  22. CZMU & Min of Tourism “Tourism Environmental Awareness” Beach Walk 6/27/09 – http://shar.es/tewM – #Barbados #environment

  23. Adrian Loveridge

    Mike Ashby,

    I have strong views of what has happened along the West Coast but feel powerless to change it.

    It’s not really what I think, it’s also about what our visitors including the travel media think. The following is a direct quote from the July edition of Concierge (Conde Nast) Magazine-

    ‘west coast beaches are overrated – often overburdened, overbuilt or eroded little coves with no room to walk, and mostly rocky, hard-to-enter waters’.

    This is what our potential visitors are reading while we are spending tens (make that $100 million) of millions of Dollars to entice them or subsidise their visit to our shores.

  24. Hants

    Adrian I grew up on the west coast from 1958….

    I have seen a general loss of 30 to 50 ft of beach due to the sea encroaching.

    It was once possible to walk from coconut creek in Paynes Bay north to the Garden in st.James and play beach cricket anywhere.

    We all know what has happened over the last 40 years.

    It seems to me that Beach repair reclamation and construction will be required along the West coast.

    It appears the CZMU has started in Holetown and hopefully will continue north to Speightstown.

    After the recession we should be able to find a few million to create a Dubai solution.

  25. I saw the Conde Nast article and although I thought the author was generally negative on Barbados, she is spot on on the state of beaches on the west coast even though she cites Mullins and neighbouring Gibbes beaches as exceptions. Visitors love to walk the beaches, and they used to be able to do it in the past regardless of the tides. This weekend’s CZMU “Tourism Environmental Awareness” beach walk (where was this “awareness” when they were approving the groynes?) will only be possible because they carefully scheduled it to coincide with low tide.

    Something has to be done and it must be done quickly as the word is getting out over the Internet where most travel is booked today and through respected travel publishers like Conde Nast that (if I may borrow an old NY Times editorial) – “Barbados [is] No Blasted Paradise Now.”

  26. The Conde Nast article to which Mr. Loveridge refers can be found online here – http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/500991

  27. Sue Ashurst

    Ridiculous the author obviously did not take the time to research the ‘real’ west coast of Barbados.
    There is certainly more to the west coast than sunsets, take time to look at Lower Carlton, Cobblers Cove up to Speightstown.

  28. Latest pics of the beach between the old Kings Beach Hotel and Mullins Beach — http://shar.es/7vQc -. They should be very instructive for those planning to go on the CZMU/Min. of Tourism’s “Tourism Environmental Awareness” sundown beach walk tomorrow as tides are likely to be high.

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