Submitted by Tee White
As someone who grew up bathing on Heywoods beach, I am extremely concerned at the way Sandals construction of their Beaches hotel there is going. Putting aside for now, the current disagreement between the government and Butch Stewart over the indemnities Sandals want signed into law, there are other aspects of what is going on there that need urgent attention.
First, representatives of Sandals have repeatedly stated at public meetings in Speightstown that the construction of the hotel would not result in worse access to the beach for local people than we enjoyed previously. However, Sandals has carried out beach reconstruction which pushes the shoreline out into what used to be the sea. As a result, the traditional path onto the beach from the Speightstown end, which has been used for as long as I can remember, will now be well above the high water mark and so fall squarely within Sandals’ private property. There is a need for an ironclad undertaking from Sandals that this traditional path will remain open for use by local people as an access route onto the beach.
Secondly, Sandals has given repeated assurances that the construction of the new hotel would be done in such a way as to avoid damaging the local environment. However, they have been using crushed limestone as part of the reconstruction of the beach. This material which is produced and supplied by C.O.Williams Construction Company Ltd is entirely different in appearance and texture to natural beach sand. I understand that the intention is to deposit this material in the sea and use dredged beach sand at the later stages of the project to finish off the beach. However, the use of this material is having a negative impact on the environment. When it is placed in the sea, it is producing a white film that covers the water and nearby reefs and also causing increased cloudiness in the water, thereby affecting the sea life. In addition, while it is stacked on the beach it is interfering with the nesting of the turtles, particularly for the hatchlings which have difficulty digging their way out of it.
Sandals promised that the Heywoods beach would be reopened for public use by December 2018. It’s now April 2019 and the beach is still not opened. It’s essential that the people of Barbados do not allow Sandals to break any more of their promises with regard to the construction of this hotel.