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West Sands' Phuket Paul Mercer signs a deal with national park rangers

West Sands Phuket Blockade Over Chopped Trees

Wednesday, December 2, 2009
POLICE have become involved in a dispute between the West Sands property developers and villagers who live in the surrounding Mai Khao area, on Phuket's west coast, over the chopping down of eight large trees.

A blockade by residents of a street leading to the large villa and condominium development began yesterday and was continuing today, with about 200 people involved, the president of the local orbortor council, Sarawoot Srisakoolcarm, told Phuketwan

Part of the large West Sands development is due to open on December 20 as the West Sands Resort. The resort wil also be home to Phuket's first large water park, Splash Jungle.

Thai media reports today said the axed trees were close to the beach in an area that was highly prized for its natural beauty by locals. At least one of the trees was so large that three people could link arms around its base, one Thai media report said.

Ongart Chanachanmongkol, Chief of the Natural Resources and Environment Department on Phuket, said he believed the trees were on national park land. He said he was planning to seek the immediate arrest of whoever was responsible.

New West Sands CEO Tony Cousens told Phuketwan today: ''There has been a misunderstanding.

''West Sands' owners have signed an agreement with the national park and there is a commitment to not only observe that agreement, but to enhance the natural environment.''

Activities on the resort were taking place with the agreement of the national park rangers, Mr Cousens said. ''We will try to clarify this situation as fast as possible,'' he said.

West Sands, controlled by respected British Tesco chiefs Sir Terry Leahy and Paul Mercer, has become embroiled in several conflicts with villagers amid concerns about local environmental landmarks.

Management at the development, an award-winner for its ''green'' design, reached an agreement with rangers in neighboring Sirinath National Park in April to preserve the local coastal ecosystem.

A plan to build a separate large resort was cancelled this year, with management dampening the concerns of existing property investors. Long-time marketing and sales manager, Barry King, left the project last month.
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Comments

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Tragic! Good for the villagers for protesting.

I would like to know what Sir Terry Leahy and Paul Mercer have done for the local community? Perhaps agreed to hire them on as housekeepers and dish washers?

Pity no photo of the tree!

Posted by Vfaye on December 2, 2009 09:57

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Not so many of these large old growth shade trees left on Phuket, so it is a tragedy whenever one falls. When 8 go, particularly so close to the beach, then it is indeed a crime against all of us who inhabit the planet. Someone will be arrested, but it will be the lackey who wielded the axe for a few hundred baht, npt the real culprits.

Posted by Treelover on December 2, 2009 14:10

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Well said, Treelover.

Posted by Vfaye on December 2, 2009 22:29

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OH dear, natural tree shade and beauty replaced by c o n c r e t e.
Oh no, but this is the new PHUKET. Welcome to the concrete jungle of many many empty buildings.

Posted by Graham on December 3, 2009 09:07

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I guess the days of virgin forests in Phuket are long-gone.

Posted by Suncat on December 3, 2009 17:12

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Suncat, the virgins of Phuket are also long gone. Sad day on Phuket :-(

Posted by Dinky on December 3, 2009 22:29


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