Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands

Wise Coastal Practices workshop well attended

ANGUILLA- A one-day workshop on Wise Coastal Practices for Beach Management, organized by the Department of Physical Planning, was held on Tuesday, September 12.

Participants were from a wide number of government departments and private businesses and included Governor Peter Johnstone, Deputy Governor Roger Cousins, Ministers of Government and Permanent Secretaries.

The workshop opened with the National Song sung by the reigning Miss Anguilla, Hyacinth Snaggs, followed by Bankie Banx with his "Cherish the Rock," sung in his own style. John Gumbs read a poem, "Man you are in Charge" and the event was chaired by Director of the Environment Leslie Richardson.

Opening remarks were given by Daryl Stoddart of the Department of Physical Planning, who welcomed those present and gave a special welcome to Gillian Cambers of the Sea Grant College Programme of the University of Puerto Rico. Stoddart noted that the beaches must be used in a sustainable manner and that she believed Anguillians would support environmental practices once they understood them.

She suggested that with short-term development only a few become rich and therefore it is important to look at long-term sustainability. She mentioned the importance of setting back buildings and the increase in coastal erosion if buildings are closer to the sea.

There were six 10-minute presentations by the Department of Physical Planning, the Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources, CuisinArt Hotel, the Anguilla Tourist Board, the Anguilla National Trust and Gillian Cambers. After each presentation questions were allowed from the participants and in some cases discussion took place.

"We cannot sacrifice even one of out beaches," said Sharon Roberts-Hodge of the Department of Physical Planning. She described the setback system that varies for different beaches according to whether there are cliffs, sand or rock. The general principle is that buildings should be well behind the vegetation line.

Speaking about the growing trend of constructing walls on beaches, she noted that it is only a short-term solution and will cause beaches to become narrower. Ground seas, waves and hurricanes continually threaten beaches, according to Roberts, and Anguilla must meet the challenge and aim to protect wherever possible.

Tom McCarthy, representing the Anguilla National Trust, showed slides of appropriate developments on the coast. He suggested that resorts and private developments are encroaching on delicate coastal sites. He emphasized the need for sustainable development so that the needs of the present can be met without compromising future generations' ability to meet their needs.

Gillian Cambers stressed the need to protect beaches and at the same time allow economic development. She suggested that any new project must be located in a suitable position and she praised the workshop for giving an opportunity to get policies across to the general public and to landowners. She noted that Anguilla has serious beach erosion problems and these are accentuated by hurricanes.

In the afternoon the question and answer period continued and there was a general discussion of the problems. Two of the main concerns were that uncontrolled development takes place and that decisions of the Land Development Control Committee are often overturned by the Executive Council.

The need for professional advice on such environmental matters was strongly put forward.

The Daily Herald, Thursday September 14, 2000


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