Opinion: Solar farm needs public input

Dear editor:

I regularly stay in Hellsgate and, although I am a visitor, I contribute money regularly to the economy and love Saba the way it is. I understand that the future of Saba is ultimately up to the people who live there, even if the final decision might adversely impact tourism, which is surely a significant component of the local economy. But, I also believe that the people who live there should be fully informed and consulted on anything that might have a lasting impact on their island.

I am a firm supporter of alternative energy, if done properly. Tapped correctly, you have lots of sun, wind and geo-thermal possibilities.

Last winter, I read about the controversy over a solar project that was designed by your local government on a hillside in an area of the Bottom. The government even spent money to deforest a hillside in preparation of the first such solar farm. During the election campaign, critics pointed out that, even if solar were considered the best option, the location should be far away from public view AND it should only be chosen with the advice and consent of the local population. The most logical place, from those I spoke with, was somewhere near the more industrialized area overlooking Fort Bay, one of the sunnier spots on the island.

Now, I have learned from some neighbors that the local government has focused on a new site, without any discussion with the local population. And, unbelievably, the location is the first place visitors see when they come to the island. Yes, I have heard from good sources that your local government is looking at, and maybe even have chosen, a site near Cove Bay and Flat Point.

CoveBay

I have come to Saba dozens of times over the years, and every time my first view on arrival, in and around Cove Bay, of the Unspoiled Queen is beyond words. Now, your local government and electric company, without any discussion with you, are reportedly thinking about putting a large solar farm in an area just above the idyllic beach at CoveBay, your only real beach. Every person, who flies in, may see a very, very large bunch of commercial panels that simply do not fit within the character of the Unspoiled Queen. Every person who wants to enjoy the peaceful and sensational views from the beach may soon have to look at a massive array of industrial solar panels.

I have watched countless first time visitors over the years hop off the plane and run over to the fence and take their first photo across Cove Bay of the mostly unspoiled hillside reaching up to Mt. Scenery. That may change forever.

Don’t be fooled. This will be no small project wherever it is ultimately sited. I am told the FIRST phase could cover as much as 5 acres of land (20,000 square meters) and could involve as many as 5,000 solar panels. And, then there will be a second phase that would DOUBLE the size and the coverage.

Tell your local government that you want to be consulted on the final site of any major project of this type. Whatever they do will have a permanent impact on your island.

Regular Visitor

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4 comments

  1. Concerned Saban

    I wonder why it is always visitors that can see the mismanagement of our local government? Well that is because their opinions have not been swayed by anyone in government and so they can see things on Saba for what they really are.
    Yes this solar farm is being placed in the location mentioned in the article at Flat Point, and the contract has also already been given to a St. Maarten company, way to cut out the locals once again.
    The one in The Bottom will still be constructed regardless of the petition that was delivered to the relevant local government department some time ago and as usual most locals will just sit back, and complain on the street by themselves but when it comes time for action they will do nothing to stop it.
    It isn’t only the government to blame for their mismanagement of millions of dollars of tax payers money, it is the locals as well that are allowing it to happen. When will Sabans wake up and realize that the local government signs away the people’s rights every time they go to Holland. Wake up Sabans before all you hold dear has been destroyed, make the government you voted for accountable for their poor and ludicrous actions.

  2. Drs René Caderius van Veen

    Decisions like these have to be discussed in the Island Council first and then publication of the plans are obligatory in order to give all inhabitants the opportunity to approve or disapprove and make objections. That is the law. If the government does this without this procedure it is illegal by definition!
    After the same thing near the Medical School, this is the second time that this happens. Don’t they ever learn?

  3. and where are all the cables going? Underground? there goes the unspoiled Queen and its terrain. Perhaps these panels might be best suited on the buildings roof they intend to power instead of the hillside(commercial and residential). There are alternatives to the situation. Don’t destroy the charm and beauty. These panels aren’t cheap and will take off like a kite in the wind, perhaps doing more damage(or kill) than good. After all, isn’t that’s why all the electrical/telephone wires have been buried in the road to avoid loss of service/repair after each storm.

  4. george k leverock

    the Idea of putting a solar farm is a foolish one, it it absolutely nonsensical, why would you want to spoil the very thing that you advertise as your main attraction, For political reasons. All solar farms do is spoil the area they are set in, the same as wind farms. Leave the natural beauty alone, there is no shortage of fuel in the world if it were so do you think that Airlines would be spending Billions on new and bigger Aircraft. There is nothing wrong with SABA the way it looks. As the old saying goes; If it broke don’t fix it.

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