Rival demonstrators packed the Cabinet lawn on Friday in an effort to convince Senators to vote for or against the SDO. The debate was halted before it went to a vote. Tucker’s Point president Ed Trippe is pictured far right. *Photo by James Whittaker
Rival demonstrators packed the Cabinet lawn on Friday in an effort to convince Senators to vote for or against the SDO. The debate was halted before it went to a vote. Tucker’s Point president Ed Trippe is pictured far right. *Photo by James Whittaker
WEDNESDAY, MAR. 23: The controversial Tucker’s Point expansion plan could be scaled back in a last-ditch effort to get it through the Senate.

A key debate over the Special Development Order to build new hotel rooms and condos at the Castle Harbour resort was dramatically halted on Friday night, with the Government facing defeat.

The PLP has acknowledged it will now have to compromise with its critics and bring a revised plan back before the upper house.

UBP senator Michael Dunkley said politicians on both sides were willing to put party allegiances aside and work together on a “better way that provides balance in protecting our environment”.

Even the most vocal critic of the SDO, Stuart Hayward, of the Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce, is willing to come to the table to help redraft the plan.

He suggested a possible land swap with the Government Quarry as one option to preserve cherished green space and allow the resort to expand.

Tucker’s Point president Ed Trippe declined to say yesterday if the resort was willing to compromise.

“It is very important for Tucker’s Point and equally for Bermuda’s tourism industry to get beyond all the rancour this debate has generated,” he said.

Premier Paula Cox said an ‘education process’ was required to convince critics of the value of attracting foreign investment.

She added: “Support of the SDO is an effort by this Government to facilitate the injection of new blood, new life, into what has been an anemic tourism product.”

She did offer an olive branch to protesters, though, saying there was “an opportunity to have a rethink on some aspects”.

She said informal discussions with independent and opposition Senators demonstrated a willingness on all sides to help find a ‘win-win’ position.

Walwyn Hughes, one of the independent Senators, who spoke against the SDO, said he hoped that would mean a redrafted SDO.

“When you rise to report progress you are presumably looking to find a better way forward. That’s what my hope is, that we can find a better way.”

Senator Dunkley believes his colleagues are willing to work with the Government on a new plan for Tucker’s Point.

“It’s too important for the island for this to be about party politics. The Premier has indicated she wants to compromise and to work together on this and I give that commitment right back to her.

“We need to find some position that all parties can live with.”

He said there was enough middle ground between the parties for the SDO to be redrafted to address environmental issues and still allow the resort to expand.

Mr. Hayward, who led a peaceful demonstration on the Cabinet lawn during Friday’s debate, said compromise was the only option.

“It is unlikely they could bring it back in its same form because of the problems the Senators expressed. The outcome would be the same.

“They are going to have to look at this and address some of the reservations.”

And he said BEST did not object entirely to expansion at Tucker’s Point.

“We are not drawing a hard and fast line altogether. We believe it would be hard to live with the changes that rezoning of precious conservation land entails. We would have difficulty accepting rezoning but there is possibility, perhaps, of more dense development on the less sensitive areas like Catchment Hill.

“There could also be the possibility of following the example of Southlands and organizing a landswap with the Government quarry, which is definitely ‘brownfield’.”

He said he hoped that the Government would seek BEST’s input.

“Our primary concern is the issue, that’s far more important than any comments that were made.”

Neither the Premier, Tourism Minister Patrice Minors nor Minister of Environment Walter Roban were willing yesterday to answer specific questions on the Special Development Order, what changes are likely to be made and when the debate will re-open.