Disney backs off cruise port on pristine Bahamas island

Facing fierce opposition from nearby residents, Disney has canceled plans to build a cruise ship port on an unspoiled Bahamian island.
Disney officials said they backed off plans after an initial environmental study found the work would damage coral on Egg Island, an uninhabited island off the north coast of Eleuthera and ringed by a pristine reef. The company, which also leases an island off Great Abaco, wanted to create a second exclusive stop with a terminal.

“We recently completed a careful and thorough review of a project at Egg Island and determined that the environmental impact of our intended development would be too significant,” Disney Cruise Line spokeswoman Kim Prunty said in a statement.
News of the project outraged residents of nearby Spanish Wells, who quickly organized a petition that collected nearly 3,000 signatures and prompted the local district council to demand answers from Prime Minister Perry Christie.

Christie did not respond to Herald requests for comment but Friday in a text message Kenred Dorsett, minister of Environment and Housing, said, “We are just happy to hear the project will not go forward and the environment in the area will not be destroyed.”
Dorsett said he had not seen a copy of the study, but Disney officials confirmed that an initial assessment had been submitted to the country’s commission that oversees conservation.

Rumors about the project began swirling in the tight-knit village after drilling equipment turned up on the public dock in Spanish Wells in June and then, because of a customs dispute, sat on the dock for another month drawing attention. Attorney Holly Peel, whose grandfather Leo Pinder helped pioneer the island, tracked down a temporary business license pulled by an Orlando engineering company working for Disney.

Opposition quickly mounted and spread, said Spanish Wells deputy district councilor Robert Roberts.
“There were a lot of Bahamians participating. Not just here, for sure,” he said. “The [prime minister] was on the radio, a talk show, and it became an issue.”
By: Miami Herald