A report into accommodating larger cruise ships has suggested doubling the width of Town Cut in St George’s and removing three islands in the process. *Image courtesy of Bermuda Government
A report into accommodating larger cruise ships has suggested doubling the width of Town Cut in St George’s and removing three islands in the process. *Image courtesy of Bermuda Government

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21: The impact of proposals outlined by a study of Bermuda’s shipping channels could be “vast, severe and irreversible”, according to the Bermuda National Trust.

The report, which was commissioned by the Government to look at how the island could accommodate larger cruise ships, identifies a series of changes which could be made to Town Cut, Two Rock Passage and the North and South Channels.

Costly

The options include doubling the width of Town Cut to 145 metres, removing three islands — Higgs, Hen and Horseshoe — near the entrance, and dredging Two Rock Passage.

The work would cost tens of millions of dollars and could be completed by 2017 at the earliest.

But Jennifer Gray, executive director of the Bermuda National Trust, said the charity did not believe “such massive, costly and potentially devastating changes” were necessary.

She told the Bermuda Sun: “Since 1999 the Bermuda National Trust has made the case that environmental assessments, which have not been included in this study, must be an essential part of the early stages of the planning and policy-making process.

“This is especially relevant when it comes to accommodating the larger generation of cruise ships.

“It is obvious that the impacts of such changes differ substantially, and in certain locations will be vast, severe and irreversible.

“This is more acutely vital when consideration may be given, in this instance, to removing large parts of three islands in St George’s Harbour, another in Hamilton Harbour, in addition to other channel modifications, all of which pose a mixture of serious detrimental impacts to our terrestrial and marine environments, and threaten the health of our globally-important coral reef, which in our opinion, is deserving of World Heritage status in its own right.

“The Bermuda National Trust does not believe that such massive, costly and potentially devastating changes are necessary, but we do believe that action is needed to attain success as a unique tourist destination and to revitalize the Town of St. George’s as a key component of such success.”

Ms Gray said the National Trust was grateful to the Department of Marine and Ports for carrying out the comprehensive study.

But she said the charity wanted to champion a more resourceful approach to breathing life back into St George’s.

Ms Gray added: “We have a large stake in the fortune of the Old Town where we own 12 historic buildings, which include two museums.

“We too are feeling the impact and suffering as a result of the downturn in the economy, along with many others in the town.

“It is in our own interest and that of Bermuda to support in any way possible, initiatives that encourage a revival of the town’s fortunes.

“St George’s is a stunningly beautiful and unique location, bursting with culture and rich in history.

Holistic

“The Trust would like to encourage and champion a holistic and resourceful approach to bring life and prosperity to the town and believes that cruise ship passengers are a very small part of the complete equation.

“The Bermuda National Trust hopes that we can enhance the marketing of our distinctive product to visitors by promoting our World Heritage Site as a ‘must see’ place to visit.

“There is nothing else like it on earth.”