Prime Minister David Thompson, (left) and Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, (centre) are pictured tee-ing off following the official opening of Apes Hill Club and Golf Course, today. Also pictured is Investor and Partner of the development, Sir Charles Williams.

Prime Minister David Thompson has warned that "without careful planning and development, Barbados could unwittingly contribute to its own demise".

He made this observation today, while delivering the feature address to open Apes Hill Club and Golf Course in St. James.

Mr. Thompson said that it was imperative that Barbados, with a land mass of approximately 105,000 acres, managed its land use in a manner that "is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

"In doing so, it has to balance the conflicting demands on land use and in particular resist the global trend towards urbanisation," he suggested.

The Prime Minister noted that Barbados faced a unique combination of challenges that would require astute leadership and collaboration in planning and managing the development of its finite land space.

He stated that government wanted to develop Barbados, but not at any price. "We have, therefore, made it abundantly clear that we will not compromise our position on the sustainable development of our country," he avowed.

Mr. Thompson added: "The demand for land was manifested in the need for increased housing, as well as agriculture, with Barbados currently importing half a billion dollars in food annually."?? Against this backdrop, he underscored Government’s commitment to reviving and modernising agriculture.

Speaking about the recent demand for golf courses as a component of tourism development and marketing, he warned against the temptation "to take out of production huge swathes of prime agricultural land."

Instead, the Prime Minister maintained that the watchwords would be regulation and balance, since "unrestricted urbanisation, rigid agricultural policies and unplanned tourism development could lead to a nightmare for a small island like ours.

"This would expose us, at one level, to the real risk of losing control over the growing demand for shelter and the related problems of sewage disposal, solid waste management, traffic management, noise, energy efficiency, water conservation and management," Mr. Thompson observed.

He also mentioned the establishment of exclusive residential estates to which people had no access, global warming and the associated impact of climate change as other problems to be considered.

The Prime Minister called on Barbadians to be mindful that: "A small island like Barbados could be easily wiped out by rising sea levels, or devastated by flooding from heavy rains."

He indicated that the Apes Hill project was consistent with the vision and policies of his administration. "It has tremendous potential as a foreign exchange earner and as a standard bearer of high quality. It also offers healthy lifestyles for anyone who can afford it.

The 18-hole golf course has created jobs for 400 persons.

Two visiting teams from the United States and the United Kingdom will play two days of golf on the fairway.

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