Speaking at the Long Bay Beach Management Plan Community Meeting last night, Wheatley noted his ministry is responsible for all beaches in the territory that are not classified as national parks.
He said the ministry’s mandate is to ensure that all beaches in the territory are protected.
“The ministry believes there are opportunities to strike a sustainable balance between development and environmental protection. That balance is very critical, and we will try our best to make sure we get a balance. We have the wonderful opportunity to still get things right at Long Bay,” Wheatley said.
“I would like to thank all the persons who have been patient and waiting for the process to unfold. Just remember beaches that are well managed bring in the most profits. Some persons prefer volume, but it is not only about volume but quality,” the Natural Resources Minister added.
He said whether someone’s interest in Long Bay Beach is for the purposes of recreation, making money or something else, everyone can agree that the beach is an asset that residents can enjoy and benefit from.
“As such, protection of that asset must be at the heart of the plan. With some very basic research, you could see how so many beaches across the world have been ruined because they were not managed properly because one interest took priority over the other: economic versus nature. Again, we are trying here to find balance,” Wheatley said.
The minister said over the last year and a half, bathrooms have been built at Long Bay to enhance the experience of persons who visit there and improve their comfort levels.
“Too long persons would go there and would be forced to use the bushes to relieve themselves. We must ensure that the beaches are a pleasant experience. But again, I must emphasise that the key for Long Bay being with us for the next 200 years is finding that sustainable balance between nature and economic activity,” the minister continued.
Meanwhile, assistant secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources Jennifer Hodge Penn said the development plans for the beach prioritise the right balance between protection and development.
She noted the protection also includes making sure the ministry can cater for all the activities that exist on the beach.
“We should indicate that before getting into this stage of presenting the plan, we did actually engage with most of the vendors who are operating on the beach and had their input in what we are presenting at this meeting and we are very careful. We developed this plan at GIS-Environment (Geographic Information Systems) and we are able to use measurements in our planning so the space we identified in this footprint would more than comfortably accommodate the vendors who are currently there and allow room to expand the number of vendors over time,” Hodge-Penn said.
Wheatley also announced that the development of the beaches must benefit the local community and refuted rumours circulating in recent times that an international cruise line would take control of the beach.
“I want to categorically dispel the rumour that the Ministry is looking to have Disney Cruise Line managing the beach. I do not know where this come from. This has never been contemplated by the ministry and is not part of the plan,” Wheatley added.