Our Readers' Opinions
April 28, 2017
Sand mining in Brighton by the Government

EDITOR: I bring to the attention of the public an issue which is directly affecting me as a property owner at Brighton and which is damaging and destructive to the environment. It has to do with sand mining at Brighton Beach by the Government, through its agent BRAGSA, as a matter of public policy. These actions are taking place in direct contravention of the recommendations of numerous environmental reports. As one example, there was a comprehensive study done by USAID in 2010 on the impact of sand mining in St Vincent and the Grenadines that strongly advised against this practice. This study was commissioned by our very own National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority. Its recommendations have obviously fallen upon deaf ears.

I have brought my concerns to the attention of the Prime Minister time and time again, but unfortunately it does not seem as if he is prepared to do anything serious about it. It is regrettable that a man and a leader, for whom I have great respect and admiration, should take such an approach. I am compelled in these circumstances to speak out publicly on this most vexing issue, despite my close relationship with the Unity Labour Party.

Sand mining has brought on an environmental and ecological disaster. The coastal erosion in Brighton is extremely bad. Huge sand dunes have been removed; a once beautiful and idyllic coastline has been disfigured; and a tranquil haven was disturbed. An archeological site was trampled upon. The once fertile lands nearby have been rendered uncultivable. This is a hard slap in the face of agriculture, which my government professes to hold so dear. A turtle and bird sanctuary is being overrun by huge bulldozers and heavy machines; the road to Brighton Beach is buckling under the weight of those trucks and sand is strewn everywhere along the route

from spillage.

I knew this beach well from the days of my youth when I was a boy attending the Brighton Methodist School. It was full of grape trees, “fat pork” trees and almond trees. These trees were still there in some abundance until the post-2004 era of sand mining. They are no more. This is a tragedy of epic proportions.

What is taking place in Brighton stands in sharp contrast to everything that the Government is saying about the environment. We signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change with great fanfare. We are calling international attention to our plight as a Small Island Developing State in the age of rising sea levels, even as we remove protective barriers from our coasts. We pay lip service to the noble concept of sustainable development, as there is no harmony between what we say and what we do. This is a terrible blotch against the state’s record and erodes its moral authority and integrity. I encourage the Government to get it right.

As a property owner in Brighton, I have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in property. This is an especially hard burden to bear, since my family is saddled with mortgage payments for property that is washing away. We do so while the Government and BRAGSA have been filling their coffers with sand revenues. This is not right. This abuse is intolerable, unbearable and disrespectful to our legitimate and propriety interests. What we have faced is far worse in its effect than the Gibson Corner fiasco and we are in this position because of the deliberate actions of the Government, against all the environmental recommendations. Moreover, the Government has been making money from the activity without compensating affected parties. How could this be right?

I must speak up for my rights. It has been my stock-in-trade as a lawyer for over 40 years to defend, promote and uphold justice. I can do no less in this case. I call upon the Government to stop this shameless assault on private property and nature right now and take corrective and compensatory actions. I hope to see a restoration of some semblance of the idyllic beauty that once used to characterize the Brighton shoreline.

R Theodore LV Browne