‘The Beach Belong to We’

Submitted by Tara A. Inniss. PhD (UWI) MSD (UNSW) BA (York). Department of History and Philosophy, Cave Hill Campus, The University of the West Indies, Barbados, innisst@yahoo.com, The History Forum Blog

When Gabby wrote ‘Jack’ in the early 1980s, he was responding to hoteliers asserting their rights over beach front property. Some almost 40 years later, Barbadians have felt secure in the notion that ‘The Beach Belong to We’. But no more. Many downplay beach access issues proclaiming that beaches in Barbados are public. However, we have witnessed increasing tension among property owners, watersports operators and beachgoers over the past 5-10 years with property owners asserting their rights over beach space above the high-water mark. But, to me, a disturbing trend has been the use of lines of (usually empty) beach chairs that create an artificial barrier (like a wall or fence) between beach users and properties. One only has to look at the aerial drone footage of beaches like the Crane, Mullins and even Carlisle Bay for evidence of this phenomenon. I believe that it is a way for property owners or even beach chair operators to conduct a ‘land grab’ at the expense of beach users. Although some complain that watersports operators harass their patrons, which is a legitimate concern, the majority of beach users pose little harm to their businesses.

In the context of access to recreational space, Barbados’ beaches have historically been the one of the few refuges that Barbadians have had access to for sporting activity and relaxation since Independence. Given the high incidence of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs), these spaces are very important to providing access to free physical activity such as swimming, beach cricket, running, walking, etc. which Barbadians need to prevent diseases such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension. Access to these spaces and activities should not be limited because of predatory business practices which privilege the needs of the visitor over the Barbadian. Also, given that beach chairs are being used in this way, we should ask ourselves if a lazy day at the beach for the visitor should be prioritized over the potentially active lifestyles that we want Barbadian families to pursue.

Moreover, given our changing coastline, beach erosion is a severe and ongoing problem for property owners and insurers. We only have to look at the high surf conditions experienced in recent weeks to see the damage that is done to coastal properties which extend their structures on to beach spaces because the high water mark has altered over time. Carlisle Bay is a good example. When the Deep Water Harbour was built in the 1960s, it changed the entire coastline of Carlisle Bay with now increasing land accretion due to sand depositing in the Bay — but that is only one hurricane or storm surge away from changing and given the threat of Climate Change, Government should be making a move to ensure that coastal properties are protected — not expanded into beach zones! There is an economic and environmental cost to all of us when unregulated coastal development occurs.

I have done some quick research on how this matter has been dealt with in some jurisdictions. When concerns are raised, the use of beach frontage can be curtailed or regulated by the state through by-laws or other legislation.

In 2015, in a Florida town, residents complained about a similar phenomenon being promoted among condominium developments along the beach. The City intervened and only a percentage of beach frontage could be used for the purpose of beach chair provision. Since then, tensions have decreased significantly. http://www.nwfdailynews.com/1.488270 In Barbados’ case, we may wish to pursue a similar provision which allows only a certain percentage of beach frontage to be reserved for beach chair use and only when that is satisfied can property owners put out more chairs within the boundary of their properties.

Other jurisdictions go much further. In Phuket, Thailand, officials conducted a ‘Beach Clean Up’ meaning that ALL structures, temporary amenities (beach chairs, etc) were to be removed from the island’s beaches leaving them clutter free http://www.phuket.com/phuket-magazine/phuket-beaches-clean-up.htm. In Australia, nothing permanent is allowed on beaches including beach chair rental although some jurisdictions are experimenting with this kind of rental enterprise within regulations. http://www.bobinoz.com/blog/18397/whats-really-different-about-the-beaches-in-australia/. I think these measures might be too restrictive especially to the small beach chair concessionaire, but they do indicate that some major popular tourism destinations take a hardline.

These are matters that should be taken up with haste with the National Conservation Commission (NCC) and it would not be the first time that they were asked to help regulate the beach chair situation. With increased tourism development along the island’s coastline and our current economic, social and health challenges, regulation of beach spaces is an important consideration.

Photo credit of featured image: ecaribonline

331 comments

  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    Peter, with reference to your Error #4, compulsory acquisition of property is a formal process conducted under a strict statutory protocol in Barbados (Land Acquisition Act, Cap 228).

    It cannot be effected by accident owing to the words of a statute enacted for another purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  • De only body compulsorily acquiring the land at the Crane is the sea!!!

    .. and it don’t need any acts of parliament to execute the acquisitions!!

    Like

  • Pingback: Jack and Mighty Gabby Return to Crane Resort | Barbados Underground

  • lex specialis derogat legi generali,

    I believe that is the closest Latin phrase I can find for what Jeff is trying to tell you Peter.

    But, who knows, I am no lawyer!!

    Like

  • Jeff Cumberbatch April 1, 2018 at 3:44 PM #

    That’s right Jeff. I’m so glad you have chimed in. I am referring to language of section 16. (4) of the Constitution that the Barbados Legislature has the right to make laws that provide for “the compulsory acquisition in the public interest of any interest in or right over property…” Control of the beach is a “… right over property…” in exactly parallel manner that control of the road allowance is a “… right over property…” in neither case is title transferred.

    Like

  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    the Barbados Legislature has the right to make laws that provide for “the compulsory acquisition in the public interest of any interest in or right over property…

    This is incontestable, Peter. My point is that a law to provide for the compulsory acquisition of property must be express and not simply implied…and it must provide for adequate compensation!

    John, actually the phrase is Generalia non specialibus derogant but you tried…

    Like

  • Jeff Cumberbatch April 1, 2018 at 4:13 PM #

    I agree in the cases where title is transferred that compensation must be paid. What is the case where no transfer of title takes place, such as the Ministry’s control over the road allowance?

    Like

  • John, actually the phrase is Generalia non specialibus derogant but you tried…

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I will have to tell the lawyer from whose submissions I took it!!!

    Like

  • …. but, looks like she won her point before a judge!!

    Like

  • @Jeff Cumberbatch April 1, 2018 at 4:13 PM #

    Cap. 228 Land Acquisition speaks explicitly to the procedures for land acquisition where a change of title to the property takes place, but I cannot find anywhere that it deals with the case where a property owners “right over property” is impaired in the public interest. This leads me to conclude that, as in the case of road allowance, no compensation is required if a sufficient public interest is satisfied.

    What statute regulates the determination of road allowances

    Like

  • Same type of situation … Legal Profession Act vs Supreme Court of Judicature Rules!!

    Like

  • @Jeff Cumberbatch April 1, 2018 at 4:13 PM #

    I really appreciate your engagement with this question Jeff, because I am not a lawyer. My second greatest joy in life is learning new stuff, so I will be delighted if you think I have a point, but even more grateful if you can show me where and why I an dead wrong.

    Like

  • BLT

    I really appreciate your engagement with this question Jeff, because I am not a lawyer

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    After all the palaver about the law and you wait till now to deign to let us know you are not a lawyer!!!

    Like

  • @John April 1, 2018 at 4:41 PM #
    you wait till now to deign to let us know you are not a lawyer!!!
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Everyone here already knew John, including you because we have known each other since we were 10 years old. You do embarrass yourself much too often.

    Like

  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    Peter, lawyers have struggled with this concept of the road reserve (allowance)for quite a while. Some have argued that the property owner does not at all acquire the road reserve but everything else besides; others have argued that it does indeed belong to the landowner but has to be conceded to the State in the public interest. I am not aware that it has ever been challenged in court.

    To seek to apply this reasoning to beachfront property may be attractive, but I am not aware of any concept in local law called “beach reserve” eo nomine. Perhaps the concept is absorbed in the definition of “beach” given in the NCC Act. The landowner has absolute possession of everything except the beach.

    “beach” includes the land adjoining the foreshore of Barbados and extending not more than 33 metres beyond the landward limit of the foreshore; Sorry for the delayed response.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    …. but, looks like she won her point before a judge!!

    @John, she could not have lost on a point of law by misquoting a Latinism!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Everyone here already knew John,

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Plus, it was kinda obvious!!

    Like

  • @Jeff Cumberbatch April 1, 2018 at 5:04 PM #
    lawyers have struggled with this concept of the road reserve (allowance)for quite a while.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Thanks Jeff, I didn’t realize that something as ubiquitous and longstanding as the road reserve would not be a settled point of law.

    I do think that the definition of beach in the NCC Act admits no other rational interpretation than that it creates a reserve where the landowner continues to hold title but that the control is transferred to a public body, the NCC, in the public interest. It beggars belief to interpret “control” in this context to be limited to picking up litter and licensing vendors. If that were the case “control” would not be mentioned at all and section 5. 1. (c) would not be in the legislation at all. It cannot be the intent of those who framed the legislation for “control” to have no meaning.

    Like

  • @John

    For a big man you love to nitpick though.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Peter Lawrence Thompson April 1, 2018 at 3:01 PM #

    What about if a sea wall was built above high tide and beach sand is lost so that the wall is now between low and high tide? And what about sea walls erected between low and high tide from the beginning on? I have seen such walls in St. James.

    In any case, large parts of the beaches in Barbados are only accessible during low tide, since the property owners at the beaches erected too many walls too close to the water during the last 20 years. This is the wrong policy.

    Like

  • http://www.townplanning.gov.bb/content.aspx?c=25

    “No structure should be sited closer than 30.5m (100ft) from the High Water Mark or in the case of a cliff frontage, 9.14 m (30ft) from the most landward undercut of the cliff.

    In addtion, no gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure shall be erected closer than thrity feet 9.14m (30ft.) from the High Water Mark or 3.0m (10ft.) from the most landward undercut of the cliff.

    In cases where development invloves beach land a current certified surveyor’s plot, not more than two (2) years, must be submitted with the application.”

    Like

  • @ Tron,

    Greensleeves is an example. Usually couldn’t walk past at high tide.

    Like

  • @Tron April 1, 2018 at 5:46 PM #

    See Hants April 1, 2018 at 5:57 PM # above. Thank you Hants.

    In addition, note that the Coastal Zone Management Act Cap. 394 has a much more encompassing definition of the area of beach that it covers, extending inland up to 500 metres from the highwater mark if it is still beach that far inland. The intent is clearly to protect the whole beach no matter how wide it is.

    Like

  • David April 1, 2018 at 5:42 PM #
    @John
    For a big man you love to nitpick though.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    Love it and engage mainly when dealing with people who do not know what they are talking about!!

    I think most people have that in them.

    It is a completely natural human response!!

    Otherwise I am a quiet individual just concerned with getting through my life day by day.

    Greenland was an example, Arch Cot … and may others some of which I still have on my plate put there by God I assume.

    Like

  • @Tron April 1, 2018 at 5:46 PM #
    property owners at the beaches erected too many walls too close to the water during the last 20 years.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    As you can see from Hants’ post, there is a huge problem in Barbados with wealthy property owners flouting the law.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Peter Lawrence Thompson April 1, 2018 at 6:23 PM #
    @Tron April 1, 2018 at 5:46 PM #
    property owners at the beaches erected too many walls too close to the water during the last 20 years.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    As you can see from Hants’ post, there is a huge problem in Barbados with wealthy property owners flouting the law.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    You may find the law is not the issue, it is beach erosion!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • To the Johns and Wilys

    ‘Ivan Van Sertima’s THEY CAME BEFORE COLUMBUS reveals a compelling,dramatic and superbly detailed documentation of the presence and legacy of Africans in ancient America.Examining navigation and shipbuilding,cultural analogies between Native Americans and Africans,the transportation of plants,animals and textiles between the continents;and the diaries,journals and oral accounts of the explorers themselves,Ivan Van Sertima builds a pyramid of evidence to support his claim of an African presence in the New World centuries before Columbus.Combining impressive scholarship with a novelist’s gift for storytelling Van Sertima recreates some of the most powerful scenes of human history:the launching of the great ships of Mali in 1310(200 master boats and 200 supply boats),the sea expedition of the Mandingo king in 1311,and many others.In THEY CAME BEFORE COLUMBUS,we see clearly the unmistakable face and handprint of black Africans in pre-Columbian America,and their overwhelming impact on the civilization they encountered’

    Like

  • Jeff Cumberbatch April 1, 2018 at 5:14 PM #
    …. but, looks like she won her point before a judge!!
    @John, she could not have lost on a point of law by misquoting a Latinism!
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I think she is cool but again, I am no lawyer.

    http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195369380.001.0001/acref-9780195369380-e-1303

    Looks like different latinisms may mean the same thing.

    Like

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    Gabriel..all of which should be taught in Caribbean schools from the primary level.

    Like

  • Why has Gabby not had his protest in Carlisle Bay about beach chairs being used as a barrier to the sea? Can it be he realized his “facts” are plain wrong? Or that he will have to protest against ALL the beach chair vendors who include small black businessmen? Frankly, I would protest against the entire multitude of beach chairs regardless of who owns them, they are an eyesore and beach hog. It makes no sense to pick om white beach chair operators alone….that’s racist and stupid. Get all.

    Like

Join in the discussion, you never know how expressing your view may make a difference.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s