Sunday 25 October, 2020

Anthony explains why SLP govt did not buy lands surrounding Pitons

Former Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony

Former Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony

Former Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony has explained why the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration he led did not purchase the Anse L’Ivrogne property at the base of Gros Piton in Soufriere.

The property at the southern tip of the Pitons Management Area World Heritage Site is currently being developed, creating outrage by Saint Lucians here and abroad who belive the development will compromise the Pitons World Heritage Status.

"We did look at the issue of acquiring all the lands around the Pitons, we looked at it and it was simply too prohibitive," the former prime minister said.

The acquisition cost, according to Anthony, would be in the region of $300 to $500 million dollars.

"Very clearly it would have been a monumental challenge for the government at the time," Anthony declared, acknowledging there is a lot of private property around the Pitons Management Area (PMA).

"We took the view that the better approach, for the time being, was to establish clear conditions regarding the development around the Pitons, why we demarcated based on reports by the PMA and why we established the PMA. The idea was the Development Control Authority (DCA) would not act on its own accord but would always consult the PMA about the kind of conditions that should be attached to any development in the area."

Anthony noted that while there is development within the PMA, such as Sugar Beach Resort which is in the middle of the Pitons, the government at the time met with the resort, indicating that any future development, including the construction of new villas, would have to adhere to special conditions.

"Conditions had to be attached. There were no build zones... period! You could not touch it, but there were zones on the outlined areas that you could have built but there were conditions that had to be attached to any building going up in those areas."

The former prime minister says he has no objection in the current administration revising the purchase of the property.

"I have no reason to think they should not revisit it; understand that the bill for the acquisition of the land around the Pitons will be a monumental bill, especially if you have to acquire, as the constitution says, the land at fair value or market value rates. The constiturion does not say market value rate but the courts apply market value rate," Anthony said.

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