St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris responded to the growing wave of concern on whether all beaches, particularly those located in tourist areas, will remain accessible to the general public, stating that “all beaches belong to the government,” making them freely available to the people, according to Caribbean News Now.
During his monthly press conference, Harris cited Chapter 11.03 of the National Conservation and Environment Protection Act to back his claim. Clause 28 Part VII of the act states that titled Beach vested in the Crown with public access – 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.”
It further states that the government “may acquire the right to public use of that beach access, by gift, negotiation, contract, purchase, lease or compulsory acquisition” wherever there is “no public access, traditional public use of a private landward access through and existing private development” or where the “only landward access to a beach is through an existing private development.”
Harris, who also serves as minister for sustainable development, affirmed that “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.”
He emphasized that no one “has the right to exclude others from appropriate enjoyment of our beach resources."