The St. Eustatius Monuments Foundation (SEMF) filed an appeal at the Court of First Instance for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba against the possibility in the Spatial Development Plan St. Eustatius (SDP) to construct oil storage, distribution and processing facilities south of Signal Hill.
The SDP assigns designations to zones on the island, specifying the land use allowed in each zone. Even though one of the premises of the Plan is that in terms of business use "South of Signal Hill the land is zoned for warehousing only" and the area has accordingly been given the designations "Business – storage" and "Nature," the slopes of Signal Hill and the adjoining flat area to its south (known as "The Farm") have been given the additional "double designation" of "Amendment area -2." This means that despite their zoning as Nature and Storage, constructing oil terminal facilities in this area is still possible. However, it takes a specific decision by the St. Eustatius Executive Council to actually make this happen.
The SEMF is opposed to allowing oil terminal facilities south of Signal Hill, in plain view of most of the inhabited and used part of the island, as the negative long-term effects outweigh any possible short-term benefits. Even more so since oil terminal construction south of Signal Hill goes hand in hand with the building of new oil (un)loading facilities and a new jetty for mega-tankers at the northern end of Lower Town’s beach. The focus of Statia’s tourism is the island’s natural and historical heritage. This potential will be severely affected. Oil terminal facilities that are visible from most of the inhabited and used part of the island are therefore detrimental to the further development of tourism as a second economic pillar for St. Eustatius. The same goes for the potential of the island as a residence of choice for retirees.
The effects will also be that the island becomes even more dependent on one economic partner. That is not a healthy basis for any community’s economy.
The area is a very valuable heritage site with slave cemeteries, the remains of plantation buildings and sugar works, one of the island’s fortifications, and the second oldest cemetery of
the island with numerous 18th century tomb stones that illustrate the rich history of the island.
Because of the small size of St. Eustatius, and the even smaller size of the usable part of the island (between the Quill in the south and the northern hills), constructing oil terminal facilities in this limited area will have a deep, negative impact on a balanced, sustainable future development of the island. There are alternative locations behind Signal Hill where expansion of the existing oil terminal can be realized. These are likely to require a higher investment on the part of the oil terminal company. However, the overall long-term well-being of the island as a whole should be worth the higher expense.
The SEMF was founded in 1990 for the protection, renovation and reconstruction of all the historical cultural goods on the island of St. Eustatius. It has since then campaigned and worked to preserve the material heritage of the island’s rich past.