PM Harris pledges to defend public access to beaches

Aerial view of Christophe Harbour.

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and Minister of Sustainable Development Dr. Timothy Harris has pledged that his government will defend the right of nationals to have access to all beaches in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Dr Harris responding to a reporter’s question that spoke to recent concerns that locals may be shut out of beaches in high tourist areas on the island.

The Prime Minister indicated that all beaches belong to the government and the public should have access to every beach on both islands.

“I think it has long been established that there is a public access to every beach in St Kitts and Nevis, and that is something which Team Unity as an administration will honour.”

Dr Harris then referenced Chapter 11.03 of the National Conservation and Environment Protection Act, which states at Part VII in Clause 28 that, “(1) It is hereby declared that all rights in and over the beach are vested in the Crown and the public shall have the right of access and the right to use or enjoy the beach for recreational activities and purposes. (2) There shall be at least one public landward access to every beach in Saint Christopher and Nevis.”

Clause 28 further states that, “(3) Where there is no public access, traditional public use of a private landward access through an existing private development shall be sufficient grounds for establishing a public right of way over that access solely for the purpose of access to the beach by the public. (4) Where the only landward access to a beach is through an existing private development where traditional public use pursuant to subsection (2) has not been established, the Government may acquire the right to public use of that beach access, by gift, negotiation, contract, purchase, lease or compulsory acquisition, in exchange for other property, interest or financial exemption or by such other means as the Minister may recommend.”

Dr. Harris indicated that the law give the government the power to act and secure the access in any case they have been denied access.

“So simply put, at all times, citizens and residents in St. Kitts and Nevis must have access to a beach, and where that access is not provided the law empowers the Government to act in the public interest to secure that access,” Prime Minister Harris stated.

Dr. Harris also promised to have the Ministry of Sustainable Development investigate to ensure public access is being provided to all the prominent beaches in Frigate Bay and the southeast peninsula.

“We will always defend the laws of the land and uphold them, and so that is the public position of the Government.”

PM Harris also pledge to correct anyone found in breach of those laws.

“This Government will write to anybody that is in breach of the regulation and ask them forthwith,to make good, the requirements of the law in relation to the beach. We will never accept for the record, that in our St. Kitts and Nevis any person has the right to exclude others from appropriate enjoyment of our beach resources. It will not be countenanced by this administration.”