Legal Notes


“beach” means the sloping area of unconsolidated material typically sand, that extends landward from the mean high water mark to the area where there is a marked change in material or natural physiographic form or when there is no such marked change in the material or natural physiographic form, the beach shall be deemed to extend to a distance of twenty metres landward from the mean high water mark or such lesser area as may be determined by the Minister in consultation with the Conservation Commission and in all cases shall include the primary sand dune;

Beach vested in the Crown with public access.

(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.

(3)      Where there is no public access, traditional public use of a private landward access through an existing private development shall be sufficient grounds for establishing a public right of way over that access solely for the purpose of access to the beach by the public.

(4)      Where the only landward access to a beach is through an existing private development where traditional public use pursuant to subsection (2) has not been established, the Government may acquire the right to public use of that beach access, by gift, negotiation, contract, purchase, lease or compulsory acquisition, in exchange for other property, interest or financial exemption or by such other means as the Minister may recommend.

(5)      Where land is acquired by way of compulsory acquisition for a beach access, the Land Acquisition Act, Cap. 10.08 shall apply in respect of that acquisition.

(6)      Where a proposed development is likely to adversely affect the public’s right of reasonable access to a beach from the landward side, any development permit issued pursuant to the Development Control and Planning Act, Cap. 20.07 or under any other Act, for that development, shall include as a condition of development, a landward public access through the development, at all reasonable times, free of charge.

From an older law, although this one is largely or completely replaced by the previous cited law:

“The Beach Control Act of 1961 (see Appendix C) gives Government the authority to (a) issue licences for the use of the seabed and foreshore (the latter implying the inter-tidal zone), (b) control development in lands adjoining the foreshore up to 50 yards from the high water mark (HWM), or (c) to acquire such lands where necessary for public purposes. Government’s exercise of development control as expressed in this legislation will allow lands adjoining beach areas to remain in private ownership, while limiting land use practices which would damage the area and restrict the level of public recreation at Peninsula beaches. The alternative – direct land acquisition by Government – carries with it a substantial price tag, not only for purchase but for the recurring costs associated with development and maintenance.”
(1) Building Setback Restrictions. It is recommended that major and permanent structures should not be built in the 50-yard zone defined by the Beach Act as “adjoining lands.” In some cases, it may be necessary to extend this zone to 100 or even 200 yards inland to incorporate and protect barrier dune systems, e.g., at North Friar’s and Sand Bank Bays. In other words, the minimum width of the setback zone is 50 yards but may be expanded upward (inland) to reflect geologic, topographic and environmental factors at any given beach. Within this zone non-permanent or non-residential, low profile, semipermanent structures such as restaurants, bars, change rooms, and watersports facilities, serving both hotel guests and the public, can be allowed at a discretionary setback established by the permitting authority. Apart from the value of such restrictions in ensuring public access to beach recreational areas, setback requirements help to reduce the need for costly sea defence measures in the future to protect man-made structures when beach size has been eroded due to storm-wave action. More detailed setback guidelines are provided in Appendix K, and recommended setback control areas are displayed for key beach areas on SEP land use maps, sheets #1, 2, and 3 attached to this report.