FIVE: Case Studies of NGO and Community Resistance


This section assesses the impact of NGOs and small community
stakeholder/self-management groups on environmentally detrimental
tourist development initiatives.  It reviews five case histories:
the Jolly Harbour Project, the Marina Bay Project, and the
Coconut Hall Project on Antigua, and sand mining and the "K" Club
on Barbuda.  These cases clearly illustrate how NGO effectiveness
in promoting coastal resource stability can be thwarted by a pro-
growth tourism policy aggressively promoted by a powerful
government and ecologically insensitive private developers.

Jolly Harbour

In 1988, the German owner of the 500-room Jolly Beach Hotel (now
Club Antigua) began work on the Jolly Harbour project, a
marina/condominium project that was initially slated to add
1,500-2,000 rooms to the Antigua tourist plant.  It has since
been cut back because of slow sales and financial difficulties. 
Actual construction was undertaken by Devcon International of
Florida and its local subsidiary, Antigua Masonry Products, a
company in which Prime Minister Lester Bird has had a financial
interest.  Cabinet approved the sale of 53 acres of land for the
project, most of it salt pond and mangrove swamp, for a very
nominal sum of money.  Later the GOAB made some other land
available to the project.

The project began (l989) with the bulldozing of all the mangroves
and all the shoreline vegetation (coconut trees, sea grapes etc.)
on Mosquito cove, dredging the salt pond, and cutting a channel
into Mosquito Cove.  The dredge material was used to fill in
certain areas of the salt pond/mangrove swamp.  In essence the
project destroyed the Jolly Hill salt pond/mangrove swamp, parts
of adjacent Yorks salt pond, and it has virtually destroyed
Mosquito Cove.  The environmental impacts of the bulldozing,
dredging and filling operations are noted in de Albuquerque

In August 1988, 408 members of the community of Bolans, which
adjoins Jolly Hill and Jolly Beach, signed a petition protesting
the sale of the 53 acres of Jolly Hill salt pond to the then
German owner of Jolly Beach Hotel.  The petition was presented by
a delegation of residents to Prime Minister V.C. Bird, and
demanded the cessation of "wanton distribution" of "prime and
strategic lands" to "foreign adventurers".  GOAB defended its
action by calling the salt pond/mangrove swamp "useless land" and
emphasized the beneficial economic impact of the project.  Many
residents of Bolans protested the lack of consultation and
pointed out that the 500-room Jolly Beach Hotel had not had much
of a positive economic impact on their community (see de
Albuquerque, 1991).  Some members of HAS, THE OUTLET newspaper,
and many Antiguans complained loudly about the wanton destruction
of beaches and salt ponds/mangroves.  Articles appeared in the
print media on the value of mangrove swamps.  However, when
ground breaking for the project commenced in 1989, the furor had

Currently the marina has been completed, a commercial center
built, and several phases of condominiums have been constructed
and are currently being marketed, primarily to overseas visitors.
With the exception of providing some low wage jobs to people in
Bolans and nearby Jennings, the self-contained project will have
relatively small positive economic impact on these two

The Marina Bay Project

Planning for this project, a joint venture between the St. John's
Development Corporation and Italian investors, began in 1986. 
Originally the project was planned for 1842 rooms and together
with a marina was to have encompassed 350 acres.  It was scaled
down because of legal (Government's claim to ownership of some of
the land is in dispute) and financial problems.  Final plans
called for the completion of 125 luxury condominiums, a
restaurant, marina and shopping complex.  To date, only the first
phase of the condominium project (28 units) has been completed
and sales have been slow.  The marina is not fully operational.

To build the project, the northern end of McKinnon's salt
pond/mangrove swamp had to be dredged and filled, and a channel
had to be cut between the salt pond and the northern end of
Runaway Bay.  This channel effectively cut off shoreline access
between Runaway Bay and Dickenson Bay.  The project also blocked
off public access to Corbinson Point, a historic site (see de
Albuquerque , 1991).  The public outcry over the project was even
more vocal than the outcry over Jolly Hill and handbills and
posters appeared demanding "Save McKinnon's Swamp".  Because the
project was to affect two of the most popular beaches in Antigua,
Runaway and Dickenson Bay, GOAB bowed to pressure and in 1987
commissioned an EIA.  The EIA report noted some major problems
with the project including the possible outflow of large amounts
of fresh water "bearing suspended sediments and other pollutants"

(Jackson et. al., 1987).  It concluded that the short-term
economic benefits of the project should be weighed against the
long-term adverse effects on Runaway and Dickenson Bays and
recommended a series of strategies to mitigate the environmental
impacts.  Like many such exercises, the EIA was immediately
shelved, and none of the recommendations was implemented.

In June 1989, hundreds of thousands of dead fish appeared along a
three mile area on the western side of McKinnon's pond.  This
ecological tragedy, occurring as it did a few days before
Fisherman's Week, received considerable coverage in the media. 
Several qualified observers, including a fisheries officer,
linked the massive fish kill to the Marina Bay development, which
had impeded periodic natural flushing of the pond, and to raw
sewage being pumped into the pond from nearby hotels.  The fish
kill became a very concrete example for the recently formed EAG 
to illustrate to Antiguans how GOAB's development policies were
effecting the environment.  At least two Senators were pushed to
making statements in support of the environment, and several
Government officials toured the area, but nothing concrete
resulted.  Another fish kill occurred at McKinnon's in July of
1990.  It was attributed to similar causes: partially treated
hotel sewage, high summer temperatures, and oxygen deprivation
(CEP, 1991:6).

Coconut Hall

In St. Peters parish (Antigua) overlooking Guiana Bay and Crump
Island stands Coconut Hall, formerly the site of an old
plantation.  The shoreline is rich and diverse and the area is
still undeveloped.  In 1992 over 80 acres of hillside and
mangroves were bulldozed to make way for a major tourism project
involving a hotel, condominiums, a golf course, marina, and
shopping mall.  The project developers, with Cabinet approval,
submitted only a two-page plan to the DCA.  The bulldozers
started operating soon after receipt of preliminary approval for
the excavation/land clearance work from DCA.

Few people in Antigua, and especially in the nearby communities
of Seatons and Pares Village, had any advanced warning of the
project.  News of the destruction of the mangroves and the
hillsides spread rapidly.  The EAG rallied support throughout
Antigua and people came out in droves to see the damage, and some
even to stop the bulldozers, but they were deterred by the police
who had somehow got wind of the impending action.  The stand-off
at Coconut Hall between developers and environmentalists was
publicized widely in the local media, and was even covered in the
regional and international press.

Like many other major projects in A/B, decisions regarding the
proposed Coconut Hall development were made in secret and at
Cabinet level.  The appropriate agencies such as the DCA, the
Port Authority, the CBH, the HCEC were by-passed or their
recommendations ignored.  When EAG members and other concerned
Antiguans pointed out that the developers were in clear violation
of a number of statutes, Tyrone Peters, then Acting Town and
Country Planner at the DCA, issued a stop work order.  Mr.
Peters, an extremely competent professional, had complained in
private for many years that his hands were tied and that the DCA
had been rendered ineffective since all important development
decisions were made by Cabinet and the various agencies were
simply instructed to cooperate fully with developers.

Caught off guard by the extent of opposition to the Coconut Hall
project, the Government promised that it would commission an
Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and retained Ivor
Jackson and Associates to conduct the study.  As of this writing,
no work on the Assessment has yet been done.  After the furor
over Coconut Hall died down, Mr. Peters was quietly fired by his
superiors in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Lands and
Housing.  He has since been replaced by another well-trained,
perhaps more compliant, planner.

Sand Mining in Barbuda

During the past two decades, tourist development and residential
construction in the Caribbean has spawned a sustained demand for
domestic and imported building aggregate.  In the OECS countries,
between 1982-1990, sand use in construction increased an average
of 10 percent per year.  Although sand sources include off-shore
dredging, dry riverbed mining and crushed pumice, the sand of
choice is beach/dune sand.  According to Cambers (1994:2), "Most
imported sand comes from the dunes of Barbuda, which pays the
long-term price of coastal degradation."

In 1975/76 sand mining operations began at Palmetto Point, a
unique ecological area in the South West of Barbuda, noted for
its sand dunes and Palmetto forests.  Originally the GOAB entered
into an agreement with Red Jacket Mines, an American company, to
mine sand from the dunes at Palmetto Point.  Since then ownership
of the company has changed hands several times and currently the
contract to mine sand in Barbuda is held by SandCo, a company
whose main principal is Prime Minister Lester Bird.  Two other 
Ministers, Robin Yearwood and Hugh Marshall, are also affiliated
with Sandco. For nearly 18 years barges loaded with sand have
left Barbuda, almost daily, for Antigua, the Virgin Islands,
Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Maarten and elsewhere in the region. 
Barbudan sand has supported the tourism related construction boom
that has/is occurring on these  islands.  Coram (1993) reports
that the GOAB receives a royalty of US $.79 for every cubic yard
of sand, which is then sold in Antigua for US$ 5.55 (actually the
current price of sand is much higher).

Under the original agreement the Barbuda Council was to have
received royalties from the sand mining operation but was unable
to collect any monies from Government forcing it to eventually
file suit against SandCo and the GOAB.  Although the Council has
had several decisions go against it, a High Court Judge in
Antigua issued a temporary injunction against further sand mining
in 1992 because it was determined that sand mining had
contaminated the islands groundwater supply.  In 1993, the Court
sentenced Agriculture Minister Hilroy Humphries and SandCO
officials Knackbill Nedd and Reuben Wolf to a month in prison for
continuing the sand mining operation in defiance of the Court
Order.  However, they were pardoned by the Governor General on a
petition from Government.

At the height of the sand mining operation it was estimated that
at least 20,000 tons of sand were being mined a month.  The
resultant hole that has been created by this operation is very
large and over 7 meters deep.  The water table is now just a few
feet below the surface and the water no longer meets acceptable
potable standards.  There is also some indication that Barbuda's 
major freshwater aquifers are being contaminated by salt water
intrusion as a result of the sand mining (the subject of the
Court decision).  An EAG team visiting Palmetto Point reported
that when it rains a shallow lake several acres in size is
created, thus increasing the chance of salt water intrusion.  The
team decried the systematic destruction of the dunes and the
wholesale clearance of the Palmetto forests, and associated
stands of Sea Grapes and Mangroves.  Clearance of the dunes and
forests has also had a very adverse impact on wildlife in the
area.  The sand mining operation has also caused considerable
beach erosion in the area around the Point.  At the abandoned
Dulcina Hotel, several cottages have been seriously undermined by
the sea and are on the verge of collapsing.  The CEP (1991) noted
that the removal of sand in large quantities would "ultimately
cause the collapse of the undersea topography in other areas." 
Destruction of the dunes also exposes the island and Codrington
village to the full wrath of a hurricane.  While the dunes are
currently silent there is no telling when the sand mining
operation will start up again.  Even the Barbuda Council, which
long complained about the greed of the Bird regime and the
adverse environmental effects of sand mining, is considering
starting a mining operation of its own.  In the hiatus, local
observers suggest that there has been an increase in illegal
mining particularly on beaches in Antigua.

The "K" Club

In 1988 Italian industrialist, Aldo Pinto, who is married to
fashion designer, Mariucca Mandelli of "Krizia" fame, obtained a
lease from Cabinet to nearly 200 acres of land in Barbuda near
Spanish Wells Point.  This was the same land that the GOAB had
previously leased to a French Canadian called Cloutier.  Using
some of the same Italian workers who had built Heritage Quay and
the Royal Antiguan, Pinto commenced construction of a luxury
resort with golf course.  The resort was to consist of an 80 room
hotel with a second phase devoted to building villas to be sold
to rich Europeans.  To be able to build the golf course, the
Italian contractors had to drain and fill a salt pond and clear a
large stretch of mangroves.  They also erected a fence around
part of the property thereby blocking off the old coast road.

All of this was done without the approval of the Barbuda Council,
and when the Council determined that the Italians had fenced off
more land than they had been granted in the lease, they had the
fence torn down.  The Italians took Council to Court and won. 
Council had to put the fence back up and the road had to be moved
east away from the coast.  Impressed by the US$1,000 day resort
lavishly decorated by Mandelli (only a few units have been
completed), Cabinet has leased a further 250 acres near Palmetto
Point to Pinto and a group of other Italian investors.  If
stories of all the leases of Barbudan land by Cabinet are
correct, all without the approval of the Barbuda Council, the
island is poised for a major tourism development boom, which in
no way can be supported by the current labor force in Barbuda. 
Meanwhile the golf course is seriously depleting Barbuda's
freshwater supply.  Putting a golf course on a dry island like
Barbuda is irresponsible and a testament to the Government's
insensitivity to the wishes of Barbudans.  This disregard was
also evident when Government, in collaboration with an American
speculator named Strickland, attempted to use Barbuda as a way
station to quarantine llamas.


These five case studies emphasize the depth of A/B's coastal
problems.  First, they illustrate GOAB's persistent preference
for short-run economic benefits over long-run environmental and
sustainability concerns.  They also emphasize (1) the aggressive
nature of GOAB's pro-tourist policy, and (2) GOAB's support for
relatively large-scale "transformational" developments that tend
to cause irreversible alterations along the delicate coastal
regions of the twin-island state.

Second, the cases demonstrate the thin top-down structure of A/B
decision-making.  Because of the habitual practice of Cabinet
either overriding or ignoring the input of those agencies charged
with conservation and mitigation, especially in the consideration
of large-scale developments, it is clear that long-run
environmental concerns have had negligible influence on economic
policy up to the present.  Without any operative internal
controls, the current decision-making process suggests coastline
regions will continue to deteriorate.

Thirdly, both Antiguan and Barbudan cases illustrate the
pervasive power of the Antigua-based GOAB apparatus.  They show
that appropriate environmental legislation without enforcement--a
long-standing historical pattern in the islands--and popular
awareness without decision-making or statutory autonomy are no
match for a government dedicated to economic over environmental
priorities and short-term personal enrichment and political

Finally, except for occasional judicial intervention, the
Antigua-Barbuda cases all illustrate the inability of NGOs and
other environmental forces without statutory authority to
meaningfully reverse current policy.  Such groups simply have not
achieved the requisite threshold of environmental consciousness
inside the political directorate to mandate change.  To be
effective in the future, NGOs and other environmental interests
must on the one hand extend even greater efforts to mobilize the
media and the citizenry.  On the other hand, new national
environmental directions must be sought (land trusts, debt-equity
swaps) and more innovative ways must be found to directly
influence the Prime Minister and Cabinet concerning the
continuing loss of the islands' natural, cultural and economic
patrimony for future generations.

Converted from gopher on 8/6/1999