Chief Environment Officer Ambassador Diann Black-Layne says that the Cabinet has chosen to override several recommendations made by the Department of the Environment as it pertains to the YIDA development at the Crabbs Peninsula.
Residents have reported mangroves being removed and areas of Guiana Island being backfilled.
The Environment head says the government has chosen to ignore the recommendations made in the environment impact assessments.
“For those of you who heard the Prime Minister say in Parliament years ago, that there would be no more removal of Mangroves, we all stated that there would be no more removal of mangroves and so on; that policy has changed…there will be a removal of mangroves.
The final thing that was approved base on cabinet directives and will remove a significant portion of the mangroves.
Government decision, like everyone, can decide I know they say, you know department of environment we hear you and we understand but we are willing to take that risk.
Once the government decide we are going to take that risk, what the next steps for the department are to make sure that when something happens to the development and it will that at no time will the Government be liable.
Ambassador Black-Layne says that, at this point, all the department can do is to ensure that any potential risks associated with overriding the DoE’s recommendations would be the sole responsibility of YIDA and their prospective business partners.
“All of the risks of danger could happen from flooding and hurricanes to people who would now go and purchase property from YIDA, because what happens is if I’m coming to Antigua to purchase property; there is an assumption that investors make, that the department of environment and the physical planning department would have done all the risk assessment that would have been necessary to ensure the investment is secure. In our writing to the YIDA, we make sure that they understood all of the risks would be on them, so the government is not liable when the disasters happen,” she said.
YIDA has not provided the department with the required monitoring plan to the DoE. Though this has not been presented, Black-Layne explained that they are not in contravention of any existing laws contrary to the belief of many of those in the public.
“We made sure that they follow the laws that are there and as far. As I am aware we said we would provide them with the full approval of the plans that they have because we were at it with them since 2016. Once we give the full approval, when they begin; they have to give us a monitoring plan. Once we have that monitoring plan and they’re ready to begin, they need to give us two weeks’ notice. We do not have the monitoring plan as well as no two weeks’ notice was provided.”
The DCA has since written to the YIDA developers requesting that they submit the monitoring plan. The DCA also requests that the work be halted prior to two weeks-worth of notice being given.