Bahrain Bay plans attacked

By Richard High06 March 2008

A local environmental protection group has criticised plans that could permanently destroy a coral reef during construction of the US$ 2.5 billion Bahrain Bay development.

The Environment Friends Society (EFS) claims the natural habitat could be lost forever. EFS has also called for a public enquiry into the decision by Manama Municipal Council to give the developers, which include Arcapita, a Bahrain-based international investment bank, the go-ahead to remove the reef, according to a report in Bahrain's Gulf Daily News.

Quoted by the paper, Khawla Al Muhannadi, president of EFS, said, “We cannot have such a decision taken without having a public inquiry. “There should be a proper environmental impact assessment and a public hearing involving non-government organisations (NGOs) and interested parties."

Ms Al Muhannadi added that if Bahrain continued to destroy its natural habitat to make way for developments there would soon be nothing left. “If we continue to do things this way, we will lose more and more and we will not be able to go back. We cannot wake up one day to realise we made a mistake as nothing will be left.”

Manama’s council originally blocked a request to remove the reef in June 2007, following allegations of unlicensed land reclamation in the area. However, following an official investigation these claims were dropped due to a lack of evidence, according to news agency Arabian Business.

The Bahrain Bay development, which is being built off the northeast coast of Manama, is scheduled for completion in 2010. It will include commercial, residential and retail districts set around a manmade waterfront, with Bahrain's first Four Seasons hotel as its centrepiece.

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