(CNS): Following government’s rejection of the private member’s motion calling for a national vote on the controversial cruise berthing and cargo facility, Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller, who filed the motion, said that he and his opposition colleagues will be throwing their weight behind the campaign for a people-initiated referendum and hitting the road with a series of public meetings. Meanwhile, government has released documents that indicate the decision to push the piers further into the sea may not be anywhere near as environmentally friendly as previously implied, as more than 55 acres of coral is still facing destruction.
Miller said that despite the failure of his motion, the debate did elicit some new information about the project that will help the opposition in their efforts to demonstrate to the public why this critically important issue should be put to a countrywide ballot.
He said he was hoping that the opposition could begin public meetings in the districts by the first week of October, offering people a chance to see all of the documentation now circulating, ask questions, debate the issues and inform themselves about this huge capital project.
The opposition leader has made no secret of his concerns about this project, which is becoming evermore controversial. As more documentation emerges, questions about the decisions government has been making also increase.
In one of the documents that emerged during the debate on the call for government to trigger the referendum, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell tabled a short document showing the redesign options, which indicated that government has not opted not for the most environmentally friendly design, as it has often implied over recent months.
This option still sees a loss of more than 15 acres of coral reef and more than 20 acres of coral substrate, patches of reef, coral heads and spurs in the direct construction footprint. The dredge footprint reaches from Soto’s Reef to Eden Rock, which means all of these reefs, in addition to those lost in direct construction, are also all at risk, plus another 20 acres of coral reef at risk from the sediment.
The document further indicates that Soto’s Reef, if it survives the construction period, will then be at risk from ships in rough weather or that are suffering technical troubles or mooring line failures. The estimated economic loss of this destruction of reefs was stated to be as much as $10.5 million annually.
With the opposition now planning to get help with the campaign for a people-initiated referendum, there are hopes that the campaign will have an even greater chance of reaching the more than 5,200 signatures it will need to force government’s hand into a national ballot.
The petition already as the signatures of almost 2,000 registered voters, as well as many more on a separate petition from residents who are not registered to vote. Volunteers are hoping for another great turn out this weekend.
The public will be able to sign the petition at Hurley’s in Grand Harbour, Pure Art, Sunset house, Bliss Yoga and the Lobster Pot dive centre. A number of people also have petition books across the district.
More information is available on the Cruise Port Referendum campaign Facebook page.