Despite environmental concerns, new hotel slated for construction on Seychelles’ main island
Construction of a hotel at Anse à La Mouche will start next month in spite of concerns raised by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Seychelles over the protection of the wetland and adjacent coastal area.
A board member of Sustainability 4 Seychelles (S4S), Marie-Therese Purvis, wrote in a letter to SNA that when the project was first proposed in 2019 a number of NGOs, including S4S, stated their objections to it.
S4S seeks to promote sustainable, green living in Seychelles in collaboration with citizens, the government, other NGOs and the private sector.
“In spite of our various efforts, especially to save one of the few remaining areas of wetlands, and to have land shared more fairly, we learnt over a week ago that this project is going ahead. The road diversion through the wetlands has been demarcated with metal poles and we were told by the surveyors on site that work is due to start in March 2021, and the contract has been awarded to UCPS,” said Purvis.
At the presentation of the project to members of the public in 2019, residents of the area objected strongly to the road diversion which will divide the community. Furthermore the diversion is intended to be built through the wetlands according to the plans presented, causing further destruction to sensitive grounds, plants, animals and their habitats.
One of the strong objection of residents in the area is the road diversion which will divide the community. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
The Anse à la Mouche development, which is a mixed-use project, is a first for the western coast of the main island of Mahe, and will comprise of an area for tourism, retail, residential and entertainment. It is owned by the Anse La Mouche Development Company Seychelles (ALDMC) and will be developed by the Royal Development Company.
“The hotel site will destroy yet another large section of the remaining 10 percent of wetlands left on Mahe, in spite of Seychelles being a signatory to the Ramsar Convention since 2005. The project proposal provides no details of what their environment management plan might be for such a sensitive area as a wetland. The only suggestion is to build weirs which are known to be ineffective in wetlands,” said Purvis.
The director-general of Waste Enforcement and Permit from the Ministry of Environment, Nanette Laure, told SNA that when the project concept was presented to the Ministry, an EIA Class 1 was requested and this process was completed with a notice of acceptance given.
“As part of the EIA presented, a restoration programme is also included like for all other projects. The Ministry will be working closely with the developer to ensure that the conditions are adhered with,” said Laure.
At the time of going to press, SNA had not received any comment from the developers.
In a press conference on Thursday, President Wavel Ramkalawan, who has been in office for just over three months said that “when we came into office on October 26, the land at Anse à la Mouche had already been sold, the project had already gone thought the EIA process and had gone before the planning authority, and the authority had already given its approval.”
He added that unless there are really valid reasons, the government cannot prevent the construction from taking place.
The first phase will include the construction of a 120-room four-star hotel, road diversion, public amenities on the beach, as well as accommodation for hotel staff among other facilities.
Talking about this aspect of the project, Purvis said that “the project is presented as a “mixed-use development” but the focus is only on ‘phase one’ the rest may or may not happen in the distant future, depending on how the hotel fares.”
Purvis and fellow NGO members request that the government reviews the project proposal and takes into consideration all the points raised before giving final permission for the project to go ahead.
While tourism is the top contributor to the economy of the island nation in the western Indian Ocean, there ae already several large tourism establishments in the western coast of Mahe, notably Kempinski Seychelles Resort, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles and Constance Ephelia.