The groynes to be erected at Buccament Bay could be the first among many in the country as St. Vincent and the Grenadines responds to the impact of climate change.
A groyne is a low wall or sturdy barrier built out into the sea from a beach to check erosion and drifting.
During the Budget Debate, MP for South Leeward, Nigel Stephenson said that while that section of the community was not in his constituency, residents of Buccament Bay have raised concerns about the proposed erection of groynes in the bay there.
The groyne would be constructed as part of Sandals’ Beaches Resort.
“… I don’t know why we can’t co-exist in our country. We can’t have development taking place at the expense of the economic activities of the locals,” Stephenson told Parliament.
“And while we are happy that Sandals is there, I’m seeing a definitive, as a matter of fact, a document, that says it is a final outline, final draft … where they are proposing to build groynes, erect groynes at Buccament Bay.”
Stephenson said that there was a meeting in the area attended by government ministers and residents of the Central Leeward community.
“So, when you erect those groynes there, it means that the activities, the fisherman, they’re going to be affected,” Stephenson told Parliament.
“What alternative is going to be made? Yes, we are all for development, not at the expense of the little man. And it’s something that I’m watching very carefully,” he said.
“It is something that we would all have to work out because the previous owners of that place, we know they walk away, wherever they are now, with millions of tax dollars money and Buccament Bay residents got a bad deal.
“We don’t want to see that repeated,” he said, referring to Harlequin, which owned Buccament Bay Resort, which Sandals Resorts International has acquired.
Meanwhile, wrapping up the Budget Debate, Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves said that Vincentians will have to get accustomed to seeing groynes.
“I’m going to tell you, honestly, and frankly, we’re going to have a lot more groynes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And the reason that we’re going to have a lot more groynes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is because of a thing called climate change,” Gonsalves said.
“And if we want to protect our coastline, if we want to protect our beaches, if we want to keep our sand, we’re going to need some groynes.”
He said that anyone who flies into Barbados would see groynes along the coast of that island, which is located 118 miles east of St. Vincent.
“And the reason they’re there is because they are invested as an economic position in preserving and maintaining their beaches,” he said, adding that Barbados’ beaches play an important economic role in the country’s tourism industry.
“They’re selling a beach, they don’t have the mountains, they don’t have the waterfalls, they don’t have the other things. They’re selling their beaches, so their beaches have to be maintained,” he said.
“And so, they are ahead of us in maintaining and protecting the beaches and the coastline,” Gonsalves told Parliament.
He said that tourism aside, “if you want to recognise this country called St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the era of climate change, you’re going to need groynes”.
The finance minister said the country will have to understand and acclimatise itself “to the fact that coastal engineers are going to be coming and saying, ‘Right here, we need a groyne. … Right here, we need a sea wall.
“That is the nature of climate change and sea level rise.”
The minister, who is 50 years old, said he remembers when he could play a whole cricket game on Villa beach, with all the fielding positions.
“Now, all you have is enough to bat the ball. Everybody fielding in the sea,” he said.
“I remember Indian Bay when you could lie down on the beach. And don’t get your foot wet. Now, your head is resting on a wall and your foot in the seawater,” Gonsalves said, adding that people used to able to play a full football game on Indian Bay.
“We need to protect our coastlines. And the engineering solution in a lot of these cases is going to be groynes.”
He said what is uglier than groynes is not having a beach at all.
“You know what is uglier? When the sea reaches the road and wash away the road or somebody’s house. So, I hear the Honourable Member for South Leeward, but I want him to hear me as well,” Gonsalves said.
“Nobody putting groynes because they think they’re pretty. They’re putting groynes there to save the coastline of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in an era of climate change.”
Even before the completion of the Argyle International Airport work should have started to build a groyne for the reclamation of Rawacou or Mt.Pleasant Beach as we knew it. It was there we played cricket and other sports and the really big party on Easter Monday when residents of Calder and surrounding areas would meet to observe “Easter Flowers” and have a good time . Mention is made of Barbados – I wonder how many people know that one of the most beautiful beaches there is ‘Miami Beach’ on the south coast which resulted from a groyne that was being built for a coastguard station but instead resulted in the formation of that great stretch of beach! Every time I drive along the sea side of the runway and see those massive rockstones I wonder why the AIA planners did not envision building a groyne using the same material; years later we would have reclaimed Rawacou to a swimmable beach again at Argyle. But they are the experts…
What about building a groyne at Rawacou to reclaim the beach we knew as Mt.Pleasant Beach …and it’s close to the Argyle International Airport. …should have started even before conclusion of AIA!
Oh, the pains of economic development! What would you say about building a 5,000 ft barrier reef 13 miles off the eastern shores of SVG to protect the island from hurricanes and rising seas? Would that be a pretty picture? Economic development means making choices that might be economically feasible but often not pretty.
I don’t know what you will call the waterfront piece in Layou that was built to protect the road and homes facing the sea. There is no beach there now. Yes we played many cricket matches there for many years and then the sea moved in. So how is Camillo going to save the beaches, which are few in SVG?
The rivers often damage the beaches when “the river come down” as we used to refer to rain water coming into the beach area during heavy rain fall. Right now the stone quarries in Layou have destroyed Jackson Bay, one of main land SVG best recreation facilities. I wasn’t surprise supporters of both political party said “HELL NO” when the government tried to support the construction of a jetty.
Who will benefit from the construction of these groynes? Is there a plan to show what effect it will have on the fisher folks and the inhabitants who need to use the beach?
There are lots more questions than answers and Camillo don’t have the answers.
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