Opinion: The social cost of the Simpson Bay development plan

POSTED: 06/3/14 12:17 AM

Dear Editor,

The Citizens for Positive Change Party (CPC), a newly formed political party contesting the 2014 parliamentary elections, is of the firm opinion that the draft Simpson Bay development plan does not meet the internationally accepted criteria for sustainable development from an economic, social or environmental perspective.

In our first two articles, published last week, CPC outlined why the draft plan does not make sense from an economic and environmental perspective, this final article will focus on the social aspects.

When a development plan is proposed, it is crucial that the pros and cons for all stakeholders are addressed.

Several issues regarding the proposals as presented in the draft Simpson Bay development plan need to be clarified.

Airport Expansion

  • What is the extent of the increase in noise pollution for the Simpson Bay, Beacon Hill and Maho areas based on the projected increase in aircraft movements in the next 10 years?
  • What will be the extent of the biodiversity loss incurred due to the additional filling of the Simpson Bay Lagoon?
  • How do the benefits of additional jet parking space compare to the loss or damage to the natural environment?
  • Would it not make more sense to invest in upgrading existing infrastructure, sports facilities and neighborhood parks?

Mega-yacht- cruise pier and marina plans

  • How will the further destruction of the Simpson Bay Lagoon and the Simpson Bay Beach affect the overall quality of life of Sint Maarten’s residents?
  • Do we want more yachts and jets in the lagoon? Or do we prefer a cleaner healthier lagoon environment year round?
  • Do we want to look at a nice cruise facility through a fence or would we prefer beach access with parking and basic facilities that everyone can use (tourists and residents)?
  • Are we going to diversify and make our economy stronger and more robust by providing opportunity for new business types, or do we want to see more people employed by government owned companies in sectors that are stressed for a short period and underperforming the vast majority of the time?

Additional proposals

  • What are the environmental consequences of the proposed boardwalk along the lagoon and the construction of link 8 (another road over the lagoon in the vicinity of Budget Marine connecting Welfare Road and Orange Grove Road)?
  • What are the consequences of the construction of the wastewater treatment plant in the proposed areas?

With regards to the airport expansion and pier construction, a so-called social cost benefit analysis and social impact analysismust be carried out before any permits are considered. These studies would need to determine the social consequence of the proposal, what the social return on investment must be and whether or not the proposed expansion will lead to the desired effects. This can only be carried out by measuring the consequences of proposed developments against other alternatives such as the results of not making any changes at all.

Many countries have carried out research into the consequences of airport expansions. A leading Dutch research institution, CE Delft, has published several reports on proposed airport expansions (UK, France, and the Netherlands). CE Delft (www.cedelft.eu)

In “The Economics of Airport Expansion” dated March 2013, CE Delft presents a social cost benefit analysis and states: “A social cost benefit analysis (SCBA) is the most appropriate way to evaluate airport investment plans. It provides an overview of current and future pros and cons of a particular project for society as a whole (public, private sector and government) as objectively as possible. SCBA therefore differs fundamentally from a financial analysis or business case, which identifies the costs and benefits solely for a particular party.”

“SCBA’s should take into account any risks and uncertainties that might occur. A major source of uncertainty in airport projects is the forecast of future demand for aviation. Past experience has shown that these forecasts have been systematically too high, their use consequently leading to overestimation of the main benefits of aviation (transport efficiency and time savings).”

CPC believes that any and all development on Sint Maarten must take place according to the principles of sustainable development. CPC therefore calls for a social cost benefit analysis (SCBA) and a social impact assessment to be carried before any proposed large scale development projects begin in St. Maarten. Only then will we have a comprehensive view of all implications (pros and cons) for all stakeholders.

Upon CPC’s election to Parliament, CPC will provide all residents and businesses with the opportunity to provide input into a comprehensive plan for the future direction of St. Maarten. Parliament is the entity available to all citizens to have everyone’s concerns addressed and decided upon. Parliament is where the people should be represented. Sint Maarten should be an open and transparent society where no one person or entity has the power to one-sidedly decide how St Maarten will be developed. In a couple of months you will be presented with a choice on how you want to move forward. CPC urges you to use it wisely.

Citizens for Positive Change

www.positivechangesxm.com

 

Did you like this? Share it:
Opinion: The social cost of the Simpson Bay development plan by

Comments are closed.