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“Armchair Environmentalists” or concerned citizens?

Friends of the Earth-Grenada is extremely concerned about statements made at a recent sitting of the House of Representatives by the Rt. Hon Prime Minister.

It was said that the Government is committed to balancing development with environmental protection while attracting investors who will employ local people, ensuring that Grenadians will ‘eat ah bread’.

It was indicated that this commitment is contained in the country’s National Development Plan, however, on inspection, there is very little financial commitment to environmental sustainability in the plan despite continuing entreaties by this agency.

It was also stated that when protests are made by a ‘a political organisation’ and individual Grenadians in particular, we are sending the wrong message to investors as there are systems in place in one of the Ministries to ensure that proper documentation has been submitted and Environmental Impact Assessments have been conducted.

FOE-Grenada is quick to acknowledge that there will always be need and genuine opportunities for sustainable development activities and projects in Grenada.

However, the issues outlined below (there are many more), and their outcomes do not give us confidence that it is being done in line with International environmental good practices.

When questions have been asked directly in meetings as to what can be done and who is responsible for making developers accountable, the response is that the Land Development Control Authority (LDCA) or Physical Development Planning Unit of the Ministry of Finance does not have the capacity to undertake the level of monitoring necessary.

Transparency has not been the watchword for any of these developments despite requests from various parties and representatives of the public regarding documentation which is meant to be publicly accessible.

This PM begged forgiveness during the election campaign in 2013, telling everyone that he would not give away the people’s land again, Levera is a National Park, situated in very close proximity to the RAMSAR wetlands.

Who are we to believe – the ‘armchair environmentalists’ or the House of Representatives when we are talking about protection of the environment or of Grenada’s publicly-owned assets?

“The real challenge in life is to choose, hold, and operate through intelligent, uplifting, and fully empowering beliefs”, Michael Sky.

FOE-Grenada would like to take a closer look at several issues where the above actions have not happened.

(1)   La Sagesse: Range Developers have overseen the complete destruction of the mangroves and salt pond in La Sagesse. Consultations took place with the public AFTER the start of the destruction where it was stated in no uncertain terms that the developers had ignored recommendations given by the consultant who prepared their EIA. The developers agreed in a public meeting at Natural Works, St. David last year that they would make reparations, in close consultation with locals but to this day this has not happened.

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Are the people attempting to protect Grenada’s coastline and pristine beaches ‘armchair environmentalists’ or concerned citizens? One of the investors at La Sagesse has withdrawn from the development, it is good to know that some people understand the concerns of the Grenadian public.

(2)   At a meeting in Levera last year, the Director of the Planning Department assured community members and others that the permission to build was limited to the workers’ village while an EIA was being conducted with regard to the construction of the proposed resort.

The results of the EIA have not been reported as yet but the destruction of various areas of the Levera National Park continues unabated according to local people who walk across the Park regularly. Concerned citizens are everywhere.

(3)   Mt Hartman: This has been an ongoing issue for more than 25 years, not least it is one of the main sites of the elusive Grenada Dove. It is unclear whether a current EIA has been conducted for this development and we now hear that the Chinese company developing Mt Hartman will OWN that piece of land once payments are completed. Isn’t this the people’s land too?

(4)   The Breakwater in Sauteurs: The Prime Minister took responsibility for the fact that no EIA was carried out for the Breakwater/Wall in Sauteurs, which, arguably is responsible for the destruction of the Mt Craven/Mt Rodney beaches. The sea is now 16 yds from the road in Mt Rodney which has grave implications for the Senior citizens Home and those who use the access road to Mt Alexander, Davey and Prospect. Local people have been voicing their fears for three years, ‘armchair environmentalists’ or concerned citizens?

In line with International good practise, Grenada also creates and amends legislation but for some reason it is not implemented in a holistic way.

The Physical Planning and Development Control Act, No.23 of 2016 (which replaced previous legislation of the same name, Cap. 241A enacted in 2002). The Act is administered by the Planning and Development Authority (PDA) established by S5 of the Act, Section 22 of the Act provides for EIA’s.

This section empowers the PDA to require an EIA. This agency, once again, implores the relevant Ministries to lobby Government to pass the regulations to give effect to the section of the legislation which provides for public consultation.

“There is something like a very powerful deceiver who uses all his skills to keep me constantly deceived.” Descartes.

Friends of the Earth-Grenada