Nygard battle goes international
Guardian Business Editor
The battle between environmentalists and Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard over whether he should have the right to receive permits for redevelopment and land has gone international, ahead of the close of a public consultation period on the matter in The Bahamas.
The Guardian of London, and Der Spiegel of Germany, both reported this weekend on the case of Nygard's controversial application currently being considered by the government for permission to expand his property and to obtain leases for land.
Meanwhile, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of a 200-group strong global marine environmental movement, the Waterkeeper Alliance, also called on the government of The Bahamas to reject the application by Nygard, citing concerns over expected environmental implications.
Back in Nassau, Fred Smith, attorney and director for environmental group Save the Bays, alleged yesterday that the government has yet to release pertinent information relating to the applications made by Nygard; Smith claims the information was promised by Director of Physical Planning Michael Major.
While Smith had initially applauded the government for holding a consultation on the permit applications as a new step toward much-needed transparency and accountability, the attorney said that without such details the consultation is pointless. Information sought includes a government-commissioned report of 2014, which a notice announcing the public consultation on the applications said would "guide" the government in its deliberations.
In its report, The Guardian called the dispute over whether Nygard should be granted the right to rebuild parts of his property and obtain a lease of certain areas of seabed around his property, a "battle to stop fashion tycoon building on Bond beach" - a reference to the appearance of Clifton Bay in the 1967 James Bond movie "You Only Live Twice”. The article pointed out campaigners’ concerns that it could lead to "environmental calamity".
The government launched a 21-day consultation period over the permit applications, which ends on Tuesday. Opponents have urged the public to react during the consultation period or face seeing environmental damage done to the area.
"The beaches and azure waters of Clifton Bay in The Bahamas are at the center of a real-life drama that would surely compete with anything Hollywood could invent," said The Guardian.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in a statement released over the weekend on the issue of Nygard's application by the Waterkeeper Alliance, said that the application submitted by Nygard should be rejected.
"The people of The Bahamas are taking action. More than 5,000 have signed a petition calling on Prime Minister Christie and the Bahamian government to enforce the law and protect Crown land and sea beds at Nygard Cay, and we add our voice of support to this cause,” he said.
Kennedy promised to "keep a spotlight on the Bahamian government and...mobilize concerned citizens in The Bahamas and across the globe to take action until Bahamian officials are transparent with the public and demonstrate a commitment to the preservation of these precious and fragile environments."
The Guardian article notes that Nygard's spokesman did not respond to questions on the matter but added that the businessman has previously accused the Save the Bays campaign of being a tool of a neighbor, Louis Bacon, a billionaire hedge fund manager with whom he has been in a land dispute - a claim the campaign has denied.
The Save the Bays campaign confirmed that Bacon was a large donor, but insisted that it was a coalition of concerned residents and environmentalists, added the newspaper.
Smith has urged members of the public to engage in the consultation process by submitting opinions or concerns on the proposed redevelopment of Nygard Cay to the director of physical planning. The public must send a letter or fax in order to do so.
In an interview with Guardian Business yesterday, Smith added: "The environment, as the rest of the world sees, is important and thankfully if the world is now paying attention to The Bahamas, our own politicians might finally begin to respect our own home."
Save the Bays has urged all members of the public to attend tonight’s town meeting on the future of Clifton Bay. The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the BCPOU Hall on Farrington Road.
A message sent to a spokesperson for Peter Nygard seeking comment was not returned up to press time.
July 07, 2014