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Nygård responds to his critics

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Peter Nygård with actor Sean Connery, part of a group of celebrity landowners suing the Bahamian government.

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Peter Nygård with actor Sean Connery, part of a group of celebrity landowners suing the Bahamian government.

Peter Nygård has come out swinging against his critics who say the re-construction and expansion of his estate in the Bahamas is harming the environment.

A judicial review is being sought in a Bahamas court to address the process of public consultations regarding building permit applications Nygård is seeking to reconstruct his house that was badly damaged by fire and to expand his property.

His critics say the work will cause degradation of the shorelines of his wealthy neighbours.

In a statement released Friday, the former Winnipeg fashion tycoon and founder of Nygård International said he has been a champion of the Bahamas and has worked toward the preservation of the region that includes a nearby public beach called Jaws Beach that served as the set for Jaws and other movies and television programs.

In his statement, he said the current judicial-review applications are an attempt to change the government process.

The application for the judicial review claims key details regarding the proposed construction have not been made available to the public.

But Nygård says he has fully co-operated with Bahamian authorities for the past four years and the required environmental assessments have been completed and are in the hands of the government.

He says those environmental assessments confirm there has never been any adverse environmental impact caused by his construction activities.

His home -- located at the end of a long peninsula on the northwest corner of New Providence Islands, the same island in the Bahamas on which Nassau is located -- experienced a major fire in 2009 that destroyed about 70 per cent of the home.

In the press release, Nygård says he has no intention of developing a stem cell research facility on the property, a claim some critics have made.

Nygård has been a vocal advocate for stem cell research and is engaged in some research in which he is the subject. A You Tube video with professional production values details his belief such technology might even cure many diseases.

The video does indicate Nygård is planning to invest in such a research facility in the Bahamas, but it does not specify exactly where the facility would be.

In the Nygård press release, it is stated his longtime neighbour in the Bahamas, Louis Bacon, owner of Moore Capital Management "has orchestrated continual attacks on Mr. Nygård for many years."

Their feud has been a mainstay in the Bahamas media for a couple of years, with each side garnering a certain amount of public support.

The Nygård press release claims the Save the Bays environmental group that has applied for the judicial review is "an organization that is the front for the very secretive Louis Bacon."

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2014 B11

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