A public consultation meeting was held on Tuesday, 6 April 2021, at the Anglican School in Sauteurs concerning the proposed development in Levera called the Grenada National Resort Hotel.
In conversation with various interested parties who attended the consultation, Friends of the Earth Grenada is expressing great concern with regard to how the consultation was conducted.
The representation from the [Singaporean developer] presented artist renderings of:
- Three 16-storey high buildings
- An 18-hole golf course
- A series of villas and a jetty. The construction of the latter will cause irreparable damage to Levera.
For a project of this scope, a transparent technical overview of the resource use required for the development was completely lacking, and practical mitigation strategies to avoid or balance the considerable negative social and environmental impacts from the project appeared grossly inadequate.
This left some of the people in attendance with the notion that too many questions were left unanswered and did not inspire confidence that either the developer or presenter had engaged in a thorough enough preparation of the design concepts and earnest enough mitigation strategies for a project of this magnitude.
People also expressed concern about several aspects of the consultation:
- The slides exhibited were in Chinese, blurry, and not clear, which did not give the audience a clear view of the proposed development.
- The videos presented were either irrelevant to Grenada or simplistic PR clips of very little substance.
- The design for the site has been created by firms situated in Singapore and China, clearly used to creating bombastic designs for urban contexts, and not ecologically and culturally sensitive areas like a small island. Neither scope nor infrastructure requirements for this project are befitting for the chosen setting.
- The designers are yet to visit Grenada in person to even understand the environment for which they have to design.
- The boundaries of the RAMSAR site have been reassigned, changing and reducing the protected area by cutting out half of Levera beach from the protected zone and shrinking the corridor of land between the mangrove pond and the developer’s land, in favour of the latter.
- The wetlands which are a protected RAMSAR site have effectively been partially incorporated into the new site plan. This is despite protestations at the last meeting, hosted in Levera by the Parliamentary Representative, that the RAMSAR site would not be affected in any way. This alteration has been supposedly done by the PPU without further explanation or basis provided at the consultation how these changes are justified.
- Despite assurances from the Department of Planning at the aforesaid meeting that permission had only been granted for the building of a workers’ village on the Levera site, huge swathes of the site have been bulldozed and flattened already in what looks like the preparation of access roads from La Fortune. When the developers and the consultant employed to complete an EIA were questioned in relation to this, no answers were forthcoming.
A public consultation is an arena where attendees expect to be treated with respect and to have their concerns acknowledged with transparent responses. Those hosting such an event are expected to be fully prepared to respond to questions and if unable to do so, be willing to engage in an ongoing dialogue until such concerns are resolved in the best possible way. This was certainly not the case in this consultation. It started late marred by technical difficulties. Facilitation of questions and responses was poor; the overall consultation was badly structured and more aimed at placating attendees than trying to solve the problems at hand. This begs the question as to what has not been revealed to the public of St Patrick and Grenada.
Furthermore, these consultations, while necessarily targeting the surrounding communities of St Patrick, seem to attempt to shut out concerned Grenadians from other parishes. This is ironic seeing that the development calls itself Grenada National Resort – making it a concern of all Grenadians by virtue of name alone – notwithstanding the fact that Levera is one of the most pristine areas left on the island and therefore of utmost importance to every Grenadian anywhere on the island and in the world.
If the people of Grenada are being treated with such obvious contempt even before the resort has been approved at the planning stage, how will our people be treated after the resort is built? The ongoing mantra of ‘jobs’ for the people of the North takes on a sour taste if this is an example of what is to come once the resort is built.