Star Island Project Officially Halted
Photo: Rick MacPherson
More than 2,000 people, including many CORAL supporters, signed a petition in May to oppose the construction of Star Island. Last month, a temporary injunction was placed on the project banning further work, but developers were expected to appeal. Just days ago, Director of Planning Clyde Robinson disclosed that permission to create the Dubai-style Star Island had been revoked. The company has been ordered to halt dredging works in the area, a decree that protestors say it has ignored.
A judicial review into whether correct procedures were followed to permit the work is set to begin this month. Environmentalists who have long decried the scheme will battle it out with planning bosses and developers in the Supreme Court. This case will set a critical precedent for future development within TCI’s national parks and nature reserves.
The legal wrangle is being headed by TCI's first environmental non-governmental organization, Protection of Reefs and Islands from Degradation and Exploitation (PRIDE). Originally established in 1976, PRIDE has earned considerable respect in both the local and international community. A spokesman for the organization said: "We call upon all TCI residents to operate under the timeless guideline set out by former American President Theodore Roosevelt, 'the nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.'"
If the project continues, Star Island would be home to a large commercial development consisting of a marina, a luxury hotel, and exclusive private homes. The removal of sand from a national park is a criminal offense under the TCI National Park Ordinance and no public notice of the project was given, nor was any "open consultation with interested parties" given, as is expressly required under the TCI Environmental Charter of 2001. The project was kept confidential until dredging began.
Despite various research efforts, the full impacts from massive sand dredging on or near coral reef ecosystems is complex and far from fully understood. Yet, in a time when Caribbean reefs are already facing the threats of extinction from coral bleaching, disease, coastal pollution, and unsustainable development, CORAL feels it is an unacceptable risk for the government of TCI to push this project through.
To follow the unfolding story, look for updates in the Turks and Caicos Weekly News.