Government is in negotiations to reacquire more than 650 acres of land on Beef Island that once was slated to become a golf course and resort. Officials have not said how they plan to use the land if they are successful. (Photo: INTERLINK)

The BVI Airports Authority is seeking to reacquire more than 650 acres of land on Beef Island from Hong Kong investor Raymond Hung, whose 25-year-old plans for a resort and golf course on the island never came to fruition, Premier Andrew Fahie said last Thursday in the House of Assembly.

The BVIAA has appointed a special committee to negotiate the reacquisition of the “Hung lands,” according to Mr. Fahie.

Mr. Hung’s company Quorum Island (BVI) Limited received a non-belonger’s land holding licence in April 1995 for five parcels of land on Beef Island, and then-Governor Peter Alfred Penfold signed over a total of 669 acres, including Bellamy Cay and Little Cay, the premier explained.

The licence, he said, granted the company permission to develop a five-star hotel and first-class 18-hole golf course there.

However, as a condition of the licence, the $10.75 million first phase of the project was supposed to be started within a year of the licence being granted, and completed within seven years, Mr. Fahie explained. This phase included building the golf course on Beef Island for $3-$5 million, Mr. Fahie said, adding that the construction timeline depended on factors including water availability.

Lawsuit delay

However, construction never began on the project, which was delayed in part by a group of environmentalists who sued in the mid 2000s over perceived threats to what they believed to be a fisheries protected area.

Though the developers eventually prevailed in court by showing that the purported protected area had never been properly declared, they never started work.

“It is a fact that no such development was done on the said lands,” Mr. Fahie said last Thursday.

The licence is not transferable, and the land can’t be subdivided, sold or otherwise disposed of without written approval from the governor, according to the premier.

Mr. Fahie said the BVIAA’s special committee recently opened negotiations with Mr. Hung’s representatives for acquiring the property.

According to a summary of a Dec. 18 Cabinet meeting provided by the Cabinet Office, the authority is to be supported by the senior lands officer in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour during the negotiations.

“Discussions are ongoing and at a sensitive stage,” Mr. Fahie said, adding that he would provide further details as the case progresses.