Government officials are assuring that the US$2 billion new hotel project at Levera, Saint Patrick, will not interfere with the surrounding wetland, which Grenada is mandated to preserve.
This was among concerns raised on various public forums, following the announcement that under the Citizenship by Investment Program, Singapore Heng Sheng Grenada Development Limited is set to construct a 500-room hotel in the area.
Government, however, said it is aware that 86 acres of wetland lie within the 460 acres of land earmarked for the construction of the Grenada Levera Nature and Beach Resort.
The Levera wetland is Grenada’s only RAMSAR site, designated as a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ in May 2012. It is a habitat for a diversity of birds and variety of mangroves, woodland and dry scrub forest.
“We have the interest of the environment at heart along with the concerns of the people,” expressed Parliamentary Representative for the area (St Patrick East), Hon Pamela Moses, adding that Government is conscious of the importance of the wetland and the agreement signed.
Minister Moses was among those who participated in a walk-about last Thursday (Sept 03), on a section of the property, to share the preliminary plans for the project.
Others in attendance were Parliamentary Representative for Saint Patrick West, Hon Anthony Boatswain; CEO of the Planning Development Authority, Carlton Frederick; Edward Niles of Niles and Associates, along with environmentalists and concerned citizens.
Frederick said that the Physical Development Authority is not ignorant to the fact that Grenada is a signatory to the RAMSAR Convention, agreeing to protect the environment. He explained that the RAMSAR Site is for the general public and has its specific purpose for wildlife and for the community. Therefore, he said that right will not be taken away.
Niles of Niles and Associates, which is undertaking the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), said that they are at the consultation stage. So far, one public consultation was held in St Patrick with the heads of the different organizations and groups.
He said the objective of the EIA is to get people’s opinion on important issues (environmental or social) and to give suggestions and recommendations to the developer to make the necessary adjustments, before submitting plans to the Physical Planning Department for approval.
While critics have voiced that the scale of this project is not suited for the area and that few local residents obtain jobs in Chinese-invested projects, Minister Moses points that this development will generate more than 1,000 jobs for the parish and stimulate the economy.
She said, “We know that people have to leave Sauteurs and travel to Grand Anse. Some have to take three buses to get to a job. The coming on stream of the project will address that issue of rural/urban migration, as some of the residents end up renting apartments to be able to get to the job on time and, at the end, find it extremely difficult to save for a rainy day, due to commitments.”