The North Leeward Heritage Preservation Front continues to register a strong objection to the reckless and contemptuous manner in which Richmond Quarry is being undertaken by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This objection is based on the following.
- No Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been carried out for the project. At a meeting at Chateaubelair in February of this year, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries the honourable Sabato Caesar and Mr Branch who represented Rayneau Construction and Industrial Co. admitted to the fact that no EIA has been done.
The Town and Country Planning Act No. 45 of 1992 make provision for the orderly and progressive development of lands and proper planning of town and country areas in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Under section 30 of the act, the Minister where he satisfied that it is in the public’s interest to do so, may by order direct the Board to take such steps as are necessary to remove, mitigate, or prevent any condition that poses or is likely a threat to the environment.
Under article 29 of the Act, EIA for environmentally sensitive projects or activities is required. The Physical Planning Unit (PPU) has the legal authority for environmental management in general under this Act, including the evaluation of, the need and level of EIA required.
Generally, an EIA seeks to minimize adverse impacts on the environment and reduces risks. If a proper EIA is carried out, then the safety of the environment can be properly managed at all stages of a project- planning, design, construction, operation, monitoring and evaluation as well as decommissioning.
- No community consultation was held to date.
The United Nations Aarhus Convention speaks to the issue of access to information, public participation and decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters for project such as the Richmond Quarry. Among other things, it recognizes the right to participate in environmental decision-making. Arrangements are to be made by public authorities to enable the public affected and environmental non-governmental organizations to comment on, for example, proposals for projects affecting the environment, or plans and programmers relating to the environment, these comments to be taken into due account in decision-making, and information to be provided on the final decisions and the reasons for it.
Further, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, (UNFCC). As such this country reaffirms its commitment to preventing land degradation and securing livelihoods for marginalized persons.
It is interesting to note that the government has circumvented all of the foregoing Acts and conventions at the Richmond Quarry.
The North Leeward Heritage Preservation Front does not oppose development but it must be done in a transparent, inclusive and sustainable manner.