A planning application to erect a six-foot tall green chain-link fence and at Southlands Park to enclose the quarry garden, has come in for objections by environmental groups.

A letter of objection has been filed by the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, citing the lack of a management plan for the park and the inability of the developers to consult the National Parks Commission.

You may recall that the Government abolished the National Parks Commission back in December 2022, stating that its members had operated outside their remit.

Public Works Minister Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch has since confirmed that the ministry is in the process of re-establishing the oversight body.

Top Feature Photo: A topographical map of Southlands Park with the location of proposed fencing – planning documents

“We have indicated previously that we will object to any applications that fail to comply with these policies until the NPC has been reinstated or the legislation amended, given the importance and value of the role of the NPC as an independent assessor,” the charity said.

“More importantly, perhaps, is the absence of a [required] management plan for the park, which means that work will likely be carried out in a piecemeal manner and which is concerning and undoubtedly contrary to good management practice.

“There isn’t even an indication in the application that explains why the quarry area is being fenced off.”

Head of the Bermuda National Trust, Myles Darrell, wrote in his letter of objection: “It is our belief that no work should take place at Southlands Park without an approved conservation management plan.

“In fact, we are terribly concerned that so much work has already been undertaken without a clear plan of any kind.

“Walls have been built, trees removed, all without planning permission or an approved plan as required by the National Parks Act 1986.”

Mr Darrell also stated that development should also involve consultation with the Parks Commission, which has yet to be reconvened.

“We understand the minister is preparing to reconvene the Parks Commission, but it is our feeling that until such a time, development in the park should cease,” he said.

“Further to the previous comments, there is no insight provided in the application as to the purpose of the fence, and it is our feeling that any development within a park or protected area should only be evaluated in the context of the wider/full plan.”

The 37-acre property was obtained by the Government in 2012 as part of a land swap involving 80 acres of land at Morgan’s Point.

The property was formally declared a national park in 2017, but while several clean-ups have take place, concerns have been raised about the site falling into disrepair.

In 2022, the Government conducted an online survey that asked the public how the property could be improved.

The options included a restaurant, restrooms, a café, a visitor centre, gift shop, beach concession, picnic areas and whether it should be pet-friendly.

Participants were also asked participants to rate possible uses in order of importance, including research and educational centres, weddings and events.