Environmental Group Seeks Engagement On Yida Development

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(PRESS RELEASE)

The Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) has been consistently raising the issue of the development taking place in the North East Marine Management Area (NEMMA) for a number of years.

This is not because the EAG is against development, but rather because we value development that incorporates environmental best practices.

During these years our main concerns have been:
– The lack of adequate information on the proposed development;
– The lack of open and transparent communication on the Environmental Impact Assessment process and the anticipated impacts of the development upon communities and the environment; and
– The disregard of nationally enshrined environmental best practices, laws and policies.
As we have done in the past, we continually recognise the need for greater conversation, and have actively engaged in conversations with Minister Dean Jonas (Minister responsible for Fisheries) and Minister Molwyn Joseph (Minister responsible for the Environment), and we also intend to engage in discussion with Minister Maria Browne (Minister responsible for the Development Control Authority).

We will also continue to engage in critical conversations with the Fisheries Division, the Department of Environment, and the Development Control Authority (DCA). We have reached out to the developer, Mr Yida Zhang, and his team has agreed to a joint meeting on the future of the development.

We understand that meeting at this level is not the only action that must be taken. We are therefore coordinating engagement activities within the affected communities of Parham, Seatons, Glanvilles and Willikies, and hope to have conversations with any persons affected by the development.

Concurrently we are working on media that should make the environmental issues clear and easily understood. Much conversation has been focused on “mangrove plants”, but the conversation cannot be there solely.

There needs to be discussion about how wastewater will be managed, and the impact that will have on sea life that keep our oceans clean, for example. Comprehensive analysis must be done and must be sought on each aspect of this development. Without a comprehensive and holistic approach Antigua and Barbuda may suffer the loss of natural services that will cost us significant amounts of money in the future.

There are those that will seek to align the EAG with political concerns. We unequivocally state that we are not in any way aligned with any political party, and have no political leanings. Rather, we are citizens of this great nation who are concerned about the holistic development of our country and hope to see that development accrues to benefits for ALL stakeholders.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. EAG. I share your concern, but guess what we have elected a Prime Minister in whom we have placed our trust to the the right thing on ours and our country’s behalf. And believe me he also is a very concerned citizen of this country and looks after it with great thought and respect. You seem not have faith in him, but that is ok. That is part of living in a democracy where the majority rules. If it were up to your group Jolly Harbour would have never been built. You had major concerns than also. However where is your concern when people do not have nothing to eat. When they cannot find work to take care of themselves. Where is your concern when a hurricane strikes and damage all the flora and fauna of the land. Do you get together and do something about it. The coconuts trees are dying from lethal yellowing, where is your concern in planting new coconut trees or to safe those that are still trying to make it. The snails are eating up all our plants. Where is your concern trying to eradicate the snail. Fishermen are fishing indiscriminately, exhausting fish breeding grounds. Where is your concern. Our corral reefs are dying, what are you doing about it. The Lion Fish is a predator for our other small fishes. Are you out there trying to bring a balance in the sea. Men will always develop lands in order to survive. And they will strike a balance. An investor that damages the very environment in which he/she has to operate is a dumb investor and would be like cutting their own throat. And I don’t think with today’s knowledge of the environment investors would do that and risk loosing their entire investment. What is your skin in the game in this. Just a sentimental one. Or are you stand to lose millions like the developer. Sorry but you guys and girls needs to stop and think if you were a developer would you cut your own throat if you knew what would happen if you do.

    • @From the Sideline,

      The EAG has run at least two extensive surveys in Barbuda on the damage done by Hurricane Irma on the flora and fauna. The EAG has won international awards on their efforts to eradicate invasive species. The EAG has done extensive work with fishermen, especially within in the NEMMA area, on fishing practices, and offered various types of training and assistance to help them improve livelihoods.

      Has the EAG addressed every single environmental issue within Antigua and Barbuda? Certainly not. However, I’m not sure how any reasonable and right thinking person could expect a volunteer organization with barely a handful of paid employees, to do so. The work the EAG has done has been internationally recognized, and it’s unfortunate that you choose to only highlight the negative for an organization founded and run by native born Antiguans and Barbudans.

      The EAG has provided opportunities to a number of young, local Antiguans both directly and indirectly, employing well known persons such as Sherrod James and Lia Nicholson as Executive Directors within the organization before they hit 30. We have also had numerous programme coordinators, such as Shanna Challenger, celebrated as one of the top young professionals in the OECS under 30, within our organization. We work with local, regional, and international partners to carry out our extensive work.

      Despite being a tiny organization of only a handful of paid employees, there are literally hundreds of persons who have been directly positively impacted by the EAG, and thousands more indirectly.

      How many local Antiguan’s have benefited from YIDA in the past 5 years that they have been here?

      The EAG is, and has always been, interested in the livelihoods of local Antiguans and Barbudans. The EAG recognizes the importance of investment, and understands that some environmental damage is inevitable. The EAG’s mandate is to provide balance ,and to encourage investors like YIDA to improve their environmental planning and conform to the local and international best practices and standards that we subscribe to. The EAG’s job is NOT to agree with the Prime Minister, or Government, although we have initiatied had several meetings with key government officials, all the way up to the PM, because the EAG prefers to have reasoned dialogue as an important action point.

      You say that investors who damage the environment are “dumb investors” and assure us that no developer would do so. Then why have the relevant agencies had to issue multiple stop orders on the work Yida has been doing? Why have they been unwilling, unlike other investors, to hold open and transparent meetings to involve local stakeholders and community members? And why are the majority of persons working on the site shipped directly from China?

      These aren’t “noise for noise sake” questions. These aren’t “politically motivated” questions. These are real, important, and legitimate questions that so far have been unsatisfactorily answered.

      Instead of speaking from an informed opinion, you have unfortunately decided to let your biases do the talking. I would encourage you, instead of talking, instead of bashing and complaining, to actually speak to some of the wonderful ANTIGUANS who work for the EAG. See if these native born Antiguans, who have lived and worked and toiled on our twin island, don’t understand the context in which we live. Visit the office. Call the number. Join the EAG on a field trip or talk. Volunteer for one of the many projects that the EAG is currently coordinating.

      But above all, do something besides just talk.

      Signed,
      EAG member whose navel tring bury ya!

    • @From The Sideline
      As a regular visitor to Antigua and one who watches the work done by the EAG I cannot believe how blind you are to the specific destruction caused by the YIDA project!
      There are plenty of hotels in Antigua, many need refurbishment. Why does YIDA not invest there? There are not so many Mangroves that protect the fisheries that you comment on! (You clearly don’t understand the importance of Mangroves!) Even less now after their destructive work.
      There are volunteers, (like me) who raise the Lionfish issues and do our bit when scuba diving to rid the reef of them and ask the restaurants to serve them. There are keen volunteers within the EAG whom have helped get the streets lights to turn red to protect Turtles and spend all night protecting nesting sites.
      Just what is the YIDA project providing? Destruction of a natural resource. More top end hotel rooms, jobs for Chinese, reduced tax for Chinese businesses. Very little for the Antiguans!
      Clearly your comment about the reef is without knowledge.
      You seem to be blaming the EAG for Snails, Palm Disease, and reef destruction! I can only see the EAG highlighting the key issues that need to be addressed and in many cases addressing them! eg saving the Antiguan Racer snake from extinction!
      I can be political. The current government in my view is making big mistakes! Protection of the mangroves would lead to more visitors that would benefit the Islands wealth, employ locals (not Chinese), and make the country a better not worse place to visit!

  2. I’m familiar with the current EAG President, and she is a level-headed individual. So I reckon she is coming from an objective place.

    LMAO! A way Tahambay Smith? Has he been elected to the UPP Executive yet? Poor fella quit as EAG President to run his career into the ground. Last time I glimpsed him, it was a Friday afternoon seeing him leave the Chinese restaurant on Fort Rd (opposite KFC). Patronizing a Chinese restaurant, while protesting Chinese development at Guiana Island. LOL! Watta ting! Watta paradox.

    • *ALP Minion’s:*
      A person who out of blind loyalty to a politician or a political party ditches their God-given powers of reason and common sense to mop up, excuse, rationalize political bull shit! A person who sniffs a politicians rear in favour of fresh air.

      • You have just described yourself perfectly. Additionally negative, bitter, and unpatriotic. Careful your negative anti-country mindset doesn’t take a toll on your health.

  3. Excellent response EAG, that is how you ah doe the ALP paid choir singers who wants everyone to hush and allow the Chinese to destroy our patrimony.
    You will not be hearing from them again on this topic because no more talking points will be submitted until next Tuesday.

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