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The Ao Po Grand Marina, perhaps Phuket's last private marina

Phuket Bans All Future Marinas, Private Piers

Friday, September 11, 2009
UPDATE

After the committee meeting, officials discovered that the governor does not have the power to ban private marinas and piers. Phuketwan is satisfied with the accuracy of its report. The situation is expected to be clarified at the next meeting, due on September 25.

Phuketwan News Analysis

NO MORE private marinas and piers will be built on Phuket under a reversal of policy, implemented by Governor Wichai Praisa-nob.

The change in approach leaves some branded resort developments with no prospect of providing marinas that were offered as an attraction to buyers.

It's a remarkable reversal of attitudes and administrative approaches.

Just a year or two ago, an entrepreneur suggested the building of an artificial island for megayachts in Phang Nga Bay, and his suggestion was taken seriously.

''Many private companies have tried to purchase land along the east coast of Phuket and around Sireh island,'' Governor Wichai said.

''The east coast has had problems with pollution and the destruction of mangrove forests.

''To protect the existing marine life and the livelihood of the local people, we are going to cease permits for non-government piers and marinas.''

With the sale of all viable land along the west coast for development, Phuket's east coast has become increasingly desirable.

The opportunity to open marinas with access to Phang Nga Bay has already been exploited, with several established marinas and proposed resorts seeing it as essential to have their own ''yacht havens.''

But the east coast remains home to vulnerable marine life, including dugongs which rely for their survival on a handful of areas where sea grass grows.

Villagers along the east coast and on the offshore islands have witnessed the consequences of large-scale developments and declared that they do not want more resorts or ''pool villas with private moorings.''

The decision on marinas and piers was made known at a meeting of the governor's new environmental impact review committee this week.

Dr Narinee Tongtam, of the Phuket Marine and Coastal Resources Office, told the meeting that in the past, villagers have been deceived by developers who promise locals jobs if projects go ahead.

Some of the biggest new up-market resorts along the east coast have been guilty of this deception. Locals did not get the jobs and were eventually shut out of beaches and public areas where previous generations once wandered freely.

''It's a good thing to stop these projected marinas and piers because ultimately, they destroy the environment and only benefit a handful of people.'' Dr Narinee said.

The policy marks a dramatic change in approach, largely based on the broken promises of several big-name, high-profile developments that have sprung up along the east coast in the past few years.

The meeting was told that the alternative was for resorts to provide access to local government piers and existing marinas.

The governor has established the new committee because the existing system of environmental checks is flawed.

Once approved, there has previously been no control to ensure the environment is actually protected and no penalty for falsely-issued approval certificates.

The change in policy leaves some branded resort developments with no prospect of providing marinas that were promised as part of the attraction to buyers.

The present governor and his predecessor, Dr Preecha Roungjan, have expressed personal views that Phuket is developed enough.

Both governors have listened sympathetically to village leaders of traditional communities along the east coast and on offshore islands, where the majority view is that no more development is wanted, or necessary.

The villagers prefer to maintain their traditional lifestyle. For better or worse, they see continuity as far more important than cash-in-hand.

Phuketwan Reports the Change in Attitude

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Comments

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The Thai and foreign entrepreneurs wanting to monopolize the coastal areas at all costs for the privileged few, even by dislodging local communities with the force of law, will pay a high price in the coming years with the impossibility of new development in boating facilities such as private piers and marinas without forgetting the extra bonuses since few weeks about full investigations from Bangkok and Phuket administrations on real estate companies as well on all companies with foreigners as shareholders or directors.

Fees for boat mooring will certainly rise at all Phuket marinas.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on September 11, 2009 19:59

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Good news I think ..

Posted by Sean on September 11, 2009 21:09

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Good news I think too. Finally the development will slow down however I just wonder how long this policy wills stay.

This seems like a bold and brave move for the governor and one that I hope does not put him in any danger.

I applaud his recent actions. As the article says, "only a benefit to a handful of people"..

Posted by VFaye on September 12, 2009 14:48

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In a few months this governor is into the history books for retirement, then a new set of ideas and actions will come from the new governor. So let's see what happens.

Posted by Graham on September 12, 2009 15:16

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Not a ban according to Phuket Gazette, - any comment?

"...But a spokesman at Provincial Hall says that Governor Wichai had simply agreed with a DNRE recommendation that provincial authorities set a new policy to carefully examine marina and other coastal development proposals in order to properly assess their impact on the environment before giving them the go-ahead."

''The new policy only places tougher restrictions on such projects and prioritizes the development of existing marinas and piers," he said.

Editor: We updated the article as soon as we realised it had become contentious. Along with other media, we reported the mood of the meeting accurately. A change came when officials discovered it was not within the governor's power to ban private piers or marinas. The appointment of the committee, though, reflects disquiet about future coastal development.

Posted by MediaWatcher on September 17, 2009 13:41

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Good to know the Gov has to follow procedure, it was more than worrying to consider he had that kind of authority. Thanks for update, MW

Posted by MediaWatcher on September 18, 2009 07:53


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