The Progressive Liberal Party is joining the chorus of environmentalists and Andros residents sounding the alarm on proposals for North Andros, which the party described as a land grab.
PLP leader Philip Davis led a delegation to Andros, where he rejected the transfer of huge parcels of land and the possible foreign takeover of one of the remaining strategic deep water harbours in this region – Morgan’s Bluff – and a proposed mining operation for aragonite.
Davis said a PLP government would reject the NANT group’s proposal for a North Andros Green Free Trade Zone, which would use 500,000 acres of land.
“A Progressive Liberal Party government under my leadership cannot and will not support the terms and conditions of the North Andros proposal for a free trade zone currently in the public domain. The other proposal also requires the most keen scrutiny,” Davis said during a press conference on the island.
The first proposal for the use of 500,000 acres of land is connected with a foreign billionaire. The $250 million proposal for the North Andros Green Free Trade Zone promises more than 10,000 jobs.
The second proposal, which involves a lesser amount of land, is driven by a group of Bahamian investors, headed by Cameron Symonette. It also involves a mining operation for aragonite.
“There is a feeling that there is open season on Andros and a land grab is in the cards. Both proposals require the utmost scrutiny and require great circumspection,” Davis said.
Davis said the party is cognizant of the need for work, jobs and development in Andros. However, he stressed that the development of Andros must be driven by the philosophy of “Bahamians first” and the people of Andros must be in the driver’s seat.
“Every investment must be cognizant of the need to protect the patrimony of our country for the future,” he said.
Echoing views shared by major environmental groups, Davis urged the government to reject both proposals in their current form.
“On the face of it, these proposed projects raise the urgent question of the environmental sustainability of these or any other proposals, given the sensitive,
vulnerable and delicate ecosystems in Andros. This is the largest reserve of fresh water in the country. This is the largest continuous land mass in the country. For all of these reasons, there should be the utmost scrutiny of any project,” he said.
“The PLP is diametrically opposed to any insidious attempt at a national asset grab by FNM insiders.”