- Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2016 11:49
The Bermuda National Trust involves itself in the planning process because we believe that it is easier to prevent environmental damage than correct environmental damage.
Every new development or redevelopment must submit an application to the Planning Department as required by the Planning Act 1974. These submissions must adhere to the requirements of The Bermuda Plan 2008, available from the Planning Department, tel. (441)-297-7756. The Trust monitors these applications for planning consent to ensure that the proposed developments are compatible with the zoning designation governing the site in question. The Trust pays particular attention to the protective zonings of nature reserve, woodland reserve, agricultural land, green space and coastal conservation areas. In all cases, we would encourage developers and owners to contact the Trust at the conceptual stages of a project to discuss ways to resolve matters that may conflict with the Development Plan and environmental issues that arise out of the proposal.
An objection will most likely be filed if there are inconsistencies between the proposal and the zoning designation and will highlight those areas of the zoning regulations that are being violated. If this is the case, the Trust will ask that the Development Application Board (DAB) deny permission to proceed. Depending on the response of the DAB, the proposing party may appeal this initial decision to the Minister of the Environment. If the Trust feels that the issue is of national importance, decisions may be argued all the way to the Privy Council in Great Britain.
Conversely, letters of support are written if a project has been undertaken in a way that is especially sensitive to the environment. The Trust also makes itself available as a resource to those who are unsure as to what are environmentally sound methods of developing a property, in respect to the zonings. Lastly, the Trust serves as a monitor when projects are of such size that their execution could take years.
Permanent Environmental Protection
Section 34 of the Planning Act 1974 provides a legal framework through which land can be protected from future development. These agreements between a landowner and Government, in the person of the Minister of the Environment, are designed to permanently protect a site from development, either directly or through an exchange, where permission is granted to develop one portion of the land and protect another portion under a Section 34 Agreement. These Agreements pass with ownership of the land and subsequent owners are bound by the same conditions as the original signatories to the Agreement. A Section 34 Agreement is the strongest possible protection for a piece of land, permanently precluding development.
Green for Green
With limited acreage available in Bermuda, there are often competing interests for land. When a development project is located within a zoned conservation area, the public’s stock of these vital areas is permanently reduced. To offset that, the “green for green” concept allows for another area of equal, or greater, size or value to be placed under zoning protection – in effect, exchanging one site for another yet maintaining the same relative proportions of land usage over time.