Letters & Opinion

Government Must Move to Protect Pitons, Public Access to Gros Piton, Anse L’Ivorgne Beach and People’s Livelihoods

The United Workers Party is alarmed at reports that access to the Gros Piton trail and Anse L’Ivorgne beach is blocked by a developer and is calling on the Philip J Pierre Administration to make the protection of Saint Lucia’s World Heritage Site a priority. The lack of attention and lackluster response by the Government to this significant issue blatantly exposes the continued hypocrisy of the St Lucia Labour Party, saying one thing while in opposition and something else when in office.

Saint Lucians have a right to access our nation’s national treasures and the Gros Piton trail should never have been obstructed in any way, preventing many who make a living on this trail from earning their daily bread. Saint Lucians and visitors have been using this trail for decades and it is a source of revenue for tour guides, water taxi operators, land and sea excursionists and vendors. Their livelihoods have been put at risk while the Government turns a blind eye. The fact that this was allowed to happen is an indictment on the current MP for Soufriere, the current administration and the Soufriere Development Foundation. Although the Department of Planning has stated there’s registered vehicular access to the beach and queen’s chain the access, the UWP is informed, this is still blocked by the developer.

It must be stated that while in Government, the United Workers Party paid careful attention to the Pitons Management Area (PMA) and then Minister for Physical Planning, and Soufriere/ Fond St Jacques MP, Honourable Herod Stanislas addressed in great detail the development in the area of Anse L’Ivrogne, explaining the history of Anse L’Ivrogne development and the steps taken by the then Government to ensure the development did not prevent local access or put the World Heritage Status at risk.

The Minister at the time outlined the guidelines for the PMA contained in then PMA and the Soufriere Region Integrated Development Plan, otherwise known as the Hyder report, 2008, and The Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) Study of 2013. The area in question was sold by Mondesir Estates to a business senior executive from Canada in January of 2015 under the tenure of Dr Kenny Anthony, who also granted the proposed buyer the status of an “Approved Developer.” The deed of sale for the property is dated 19th January 2016 also during the tenure of the Dr. Anthony administration.

In managing this situation, while in Office the UWP administration, worked with the developer to ensure the proposed development site falls within policy area 1 of the Pitons Management Area and according to the Design Guide of the Limits of Acceptable Change Study of 2013. To that end the UWP administration rejected the initial plans of the developer due to the fact that it was not in keeping with the rules which govern the area. The UWP only approved plans that kept to the guidelines and aesthetics of the area and monitored this development every step of the way.

Considering recent developments, it would seem that the SLP Government, MP Emma Hippolyte, the Minister for Planning, the Soufriere Development Foundation, the National Trust and so-called watch groups that were very active under the UWP administration have dropped the ball and failed the people of Soufriere and Saint Lucia.

The United Workers Party will challenge any moves to prevent locals from accessing our beaches, nature trails and protect our status as a World Heritage Site.

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