BVI News

Beach access laws should be upheld, Gov’t declares

Bubbly Pool

Bubbly Pool

The National Democratic Party (NDP) government said it will ensure the laws regarding beach access are upheld.

“All beaches in the BVI are public, and my government will ensure that it is equally so in their use as it is in law,” Premier Dr D Orlando Smith told the House of Assembly during his budget speech yesterday, January 16.

He further stated that his administration “will continue the development of the Brandywine Bay Beach so that it is completed in time for the next tourist season”.

Premier Smith did not specify any particular beach when he made the comment in the territory’s legislature.

But his declaration comes days after representative of the First Electoral District Andrew Fahie publicly said residents have been complaining about being blocked from accessing the beach in the vicinity of the Sugar Mill Hotel on the western end of Tortola.

The law

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Natural Resources headed by Dr Kedrick Pickering has found it fit to issue a public notice, quoting the law governing access to beaches.

The notice, which made no mention of the current controversies, is RE-PUBLISHED BELOW:

The public is hereby reminded of the legislation guiding Public Access and Rights of Way to Beaches as per the Planning Act 2004.

The Planning Act 2004 states that “a beach is defined as that area of the coastal zone from the seaward limit of the foreshore running inland to the vegetation line or other natural barrier whichever is closer to the landward limit of the foreshore, and a beach may consist of sand, stones, gravel, shingle, coral fragments or boulders.”

Section 61 states: There shall be at least one public landward access to every beach in the Territory. Where there is no alternative public landward access, traditional public use of a private landward access through an existing private development shall be sufficient grounds for establishing a public way over that access for the purpose of access to the beach by the public.

Where the only landward access to a beach is through an existing private development where traditional public use pursuant to subsection (2) has not been established, the Crown may acquire the right to public use of that landward access by gift, agreement, compulsory acquisition, or in exchange for other property, interest, or financial exemption, or by such other means as the Minister may recommend.

For the purposes of this section “traditional public use” means peaceable, open and uninterrupted enjoyment for a period of twenty years or more; and public landward access shall be motorable unless the Minister otherwise determines.

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