Seychelles citizens raise concerns on Grand Police Bay hotel project
The Grand Police Bay hotel project in Seychelles is still under discussions with developers, said the ministry of tourism following concerns raised by residents on social media and the launching of a public petition to try and stop the development.
The Seychelles' Minister of Tourism, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, told SNA that the government has taken into account the concerns brought forth by the public on the project.
“As we are aiming towards sustainable tourism, we always ensure that any tourism development when approved have to meet all our required standards and practices. We have both the Environmental Protection Act and the Town and Country Planning Act to guide development in Seychelles,” Loustau-Lalanne said.
The minister added that with hotel developments a Class 1 environmental impact assessment is always required and the public will be consulted both at the scoping stage and at the EIA Report stage. A Class 1 impact assessment is for projects whose proposed locations occur within ecologically sensitive areas
The proposed Grand Police Bay hotel in Takamaka, a district in the south of Mahe, the main island, is part of the 18 new tourism establishments excluded from the moratorium on the construction of large hotels.
The announcement of the proposed construction has brought back public concerns on the project.
SNA spoke to some concerned citizens.
Aravinth Pillay said that Seychelles is a country that values a respect for its surroundings.
“We cannot let the very foundation and identity of Seychelles be stripped away for a mere financial gain,” Pillay said.
Jacques Pool told SNA that the National Assembly needs to find a way to pass legislation along the lines of turning this area of outstanding natural beauty into a national park for protection.
“We owe this to the future generations of this country,” said Pool.
“This is a gift from above,” said Farima Barbier said, adding that, “some do have diamonds and gold, others oil but what we have is priceless. How can a mother give her only son away to strangers?”
SNA spoke to David Rowat, chair of the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, who has been granted permission to do a biodiversity assessment of the Grand Police.
Rowat said the place is considered as an international key biodiversity area (KBA).
“It is in fact flanked by two other key diversity areas on the hills of the Collines du Sud which are currently being merged together. The designation comes due to the fact that this is a freshwater wetland of which only 10% of the original ones currently survives,” Rowat told SNA.
He said that, “As such it is home to the two species of endemic, Critically Endangered and nationally protected terrapins ‘Torti Soupap’ as well as being a potential foraging area for sheath tail bats.”
Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, is home to 57 international outstanding biodiversity areas that need to be conserved. Neighbouring country Mauritius is home to 17 KBAs.
Rowat said that ecologically speaking, it is difficult to assess what the country will lose as there is no formal development plan yet.
Aside from a large hotel, he believes that there are other projects that could be done in order to reap economical benefits for the country.
“There could be great benefit to turn the entire mountain and wetland area into a National Park, combine and conserve both the terrestrial and the wetland biodiversity areas, and the beach, which is the most important one for nesting turtle on Mahe,” said Rowat.
The elected member in the National Assembly for the Takamaka district, Paul Ernesta, said that he is not against development, but he will stand to what his voters say.
“The people of Takamaka have spoken, and it seems that they do not want the project to materialize,” said Ernesta.
By: Daniel Laurence and Betymie