Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Hon Melvin M. Turbull (R2) has warned against unauthorised use of beaches for commercial and non-commercial activities, which he says continues on beaches at Cane Garden Bay, Long Bay and Beef Island.
During a statement at the Second Sitting of the Fifth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly at Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duff's Bottom on January 26, 2023, Hon Turnbull reminded that the Ministry has had a long-standing practice of requiring permission for all commercial uses and certain non-commercial uses of the beach.
Policy formalized in 2020 - Hon Turnbull
“That practice was formalized as policy in 2020 with Cabinet’s approval of The Virgin Islands
Beach Policy, which is available on the Ministry’s website,” he said.
Hon Turnbull added that the local Beach Policy requires that persons apply to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour for permission to use beaches for any commercial activity, regardless of the size of the operation, presence or absence of a structure, type of structure, or whether it is a temporary or permanent operation.
“This applies to all bar or restaurant operations, snack vending, souvenir or craft vending, beach chair rental, water sport operations, other nature-based activities, hair braiding services, spa/massage services, or any other activity involving the sale of goods or services at the beach,” he said.
He said the Policy also requires the Ministry’s approval of non-commercial activities in cases where there would be groups larger than 50 persons, loudspeakers, or open fires. Madam Speaker, this may include, for example, large or loud private parties or barbeques, public entertainment events, sporting events, family reunions, camping, church events, corporate events, cultural events, and so on.
“Madam Speaker, the Ministry is aware that many persons and organisations are carrying out commercial activities and non-commercial events on beaches without the required permission. In carrying out these activities, in addition to violating the Beach Policy, in many instances, persons are building structures on the beach illegally and even squatting on Crown land. Persons are also operating without basic legal requirements like a trade licence, liquor licence, and food handler’s licence,” he added.
Permission required - Hon Turnbull
Hon Turnbull related that, in addition to requiring permission for use as outlined above, the Beach Policy sets out parameters within which persons must operate to ensure the protection of the beach and the enjoyment of all users. For example, the Policy states that no equipment or beach chairs should remain on the sandy area of the beach unless they are in use.
“Madam Speaker, one reason for my intervention today is to again make the public aware of the requirements to apply for permission to use beaches for any commercial activity as well as non-commercial uses in cases where there would be groups larger than 50 persons, loudspeakers or open fires, and to remind persons of other requirements around beach use, set out in the Beach Policy."
He said for persons violating policies, the Ministry will work to collaborate with the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the Town and Country Planning Department, Trade Department, the Attorney General’s Chambers, and other relevant authorities to uphold the Beach Policy and enforce all applicable legislation, which means unapproved events and commercial activities on VI’s beaches will be shut down.
Hon Melvin M. Turnbull (R2) related
that, in addition to requiring permission for use of beaches, the Beach
Policy sets out parameters within which persons must operate to ensure
the protection of the beach and the enjoyment of all users, for example,
the Policy states that no equipment or beach chairs should remain on
the sandy area of the beach unless they are in use.