In order for the switch to happen, Southlands' owners would need to persuade the Jumeirah Hotel Group — which wants to build a five-star, 497-bed resort on the Warwick site, to the horror of environmentalists who say it would destroy one of the Island's last remaining green open spaces — of the benefits of developing an oil-polluted former US naval base instead.

Environmental charity Greenrock issued a statement on Friday saying it had long supported the development of brownfield sites like Morgan's Point in order to safeguard green open space such as Southlands.  But the group said questions still needed to be asked about the implications of the land swap. "Will the proposed consultation and review process take place if Jumeirah moves to Morgan's Point?" asked the statement. "What will happen to Southlands? And how much of Morgan's Point will be developed by Jumeirah?"

Greenrock said the Government's decision to grant a Special Development Order (SDO) earlier this year for the Southlands project was contrary to its own sustainable development plan, introduced when Mr. Scott was Premier.  "The current government used an SDO to 'fast track' the approving process of this development way before detailed environmental impact study was taken," said the statement. "One even wonders whether this unprecedented approval caught the developers off guard in their own planning."

Mr. Scott told this newspaper he suggested Morgan's Point to Nelson Hunt, of Southlands Ltd, after meeting with his Warwick South constituents.  Greenrock said it welcomed his involvement and the fact that dialogue had now opened up between Southlands Ltd. and Government on an alternative site, regardless of whether he got involved because of his constituents or his commitment to sustainable development.  Government has yet to comment on the Morgan's Point proposal.

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