Barbados National Trust President Dr. Karl Watson seeks government promise to comfort him.
Publicly surrenders to lying politicians and their developer friends.
Dr. Karl Watson, the President of the Barbados National Trust, was in the paper recently saying he “eagerly awaited the day when the formal Cabinet decision to legally establish the National Park of Barbados would become reality.”
He urged the government to withstand pressure from “real estate barons” and to save the Scotland District from the urban sprawl creeping across Barbados. He wanted a “guarantee” from politicians that we will have some green space left.
But then in the next breath, Dr. Watson predicted that stopping the urbanisation of the island is a lost cause. I had to read his quotes three times to convince myself that he said it, but it’s there. Unless we hear that he was somehow grossly misquoted, the Doctor surrendered.
What Dr. Watson must realize and didn’t want to say, is that the “real estate barons” and those in government who control the land use are as one.
This island’s two promised National Parks and other green space may be doomed, but it is not because those in government cannot “withstand the pressure” from the real estate barons. Our green space is doomed because our political elites ARE the “real estate barons” who directly and indirectly profit from land speculation and development.
Barbadians were “guaranteed” two National Parks – at Scotland District and at Graeme Hall – but we were lied to.
“I think that even with the best will in the world and with the imposition of controls and with the full authority that Town and Country Planning has, I think that the economic aspect of development and the economic drivers of development are so gargantuan, so all-consuming, overpowering, that they are going to break down any hurdle that we put in their way to act as a brake on this runaway development.”
…Dr. Karl Watson, President of the Barbados National Trust, publicly surrenders as quoted in The Nation.
All we can hope for, says Dr. Watson, is that the government will provide a “guarantee” that there will be some green space left.
“… We need some guarantee that at some point in time in the next 15 or 20 years there will be some green spaces left in this island that we can go out and enjoy. It has to be done.”
Dr. Watson knows that Bajans were given guarantees about green space in the past – lot’s of worthless guarantees. What is that old saying about a promise being a comfort?
“Guaranteed” National Park at Graeme Hall – Gone!
Back in 1981, the Government stated that a new park would be created at Graeme Hall. The Physical Development Plan of 1983, the amended plan in 1986 and the 1988 National Physical Development Plan of Barbados showed a National Park at Graeme Hall – because our leadership during the 1980’s recognized that if these lands were not set aside and preserved from development, the entire South Coast would soon be wall to wall concrete.
The move by government and its friends to convert the Graeme Hall parklands began after the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary was restored by Peter Allard in the 1990′s. Allard, a retired Canadian attorney and investor, purchased the Sanctuary lands after due diligence examination showed that the 1988 PDP designated the approximately 240-acre green space at Graeme Hall as an environmental, recreational and agricultural buffer for the wetland, and as a green corridor between Oistins and Greater Bridgetown urban areas.
But after Allard invested some US$35 million into restoring the Graeme Hall wetlands (and making it attractive), the government and their friends decided that there was money to be made by selling off the public wetlands buffer for development. Of course, the government would sell off the public lands to “friends” (like CLICO).
Despite a petition signed by 6,000 Barbadians to preserve the 240-acre Graeme Hall area as a National Park, in 2008 the newly elected Thompson DLP government removed those guarantees as one of their first acts… to allow development of the previously “guaranteed” green space and Graeme Hall National Park.
The Graeme Hall National Park was dead.
“Guaranteed” National Park at Scotland – It doesn’t exist!
For over forty years various Barbados governments said “yes” to a National Park in the Scotland District. To be more precise, the politicians said “yes” when an election was imminent or when there was international money available if the words “sustainable”, “green” and “environment” were thrown about like they meant it.
The reality: other than a few policy statements, delivered enthusiastically but with minimal detail, the politicians never passed legislation that clearly defines the boundaries of Scotland National Park and precludes development in the future.
You see, government officials know that they, their friends and close family members are free to profit from the sale of government lands and they don’t want to limit this activity as the legal declaration of the Scotland National Park will do.
Remember, this is Barbados where it is not unknown for senior public servants or their spouses or close family members to own a land development company!
In the case of a written Development Plan, well… BLP and DLP governments have shown that the plan can always be modified once some sucker foreigner invests based upon the existing Development Plan.
What a scam!
Now let’s look at the Thompson government’s WRITTEN promise about the development of agricultural land…
“Guaranteed” 2/3 of Parliament needed to switch agricultural land for development – Gone!
The DLP promised in writing in their “Pathways to Progress” policy booklet that they would require a 2/3 free vote in Parliament to change agricultural land to allow development.
That’s the promise that Thompson and the DLP put in writing and it’s a promise that they broke with their first piece of legislation that killed the Graeme Hall National Park, and since then in many other cases.
Ha! What suckers we were to believe David Thompson and the DLP about “guaranteed” green space.
Comfort from Government promises
Dr. Watson can ask for and receive all the “guarantees” he wants. If a promise is a comfort to Dr. Watson, well, that’s his business. The rest of us learned long ago that written or verbal government promises without actual legislation aren’t worth spit on the ground.
Scotland National Park?
It never was, and it never will be, under a DLP or BLP government.
Nation News: Watson – Save Scotland District