Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves has been informed by the “responsible person” in the Physical Planning Unit of a decision to refuse the application (in-principle) which would see a third jetty constructed in Layou.
Speaking on the “Your Morning Cup” program on NBC radio on Wednesday, March 30, Gonsalves said that a decision had apparently been made on Thursday, March 24.
March 24 was one day before the completion of a 14-day period within which interested persons are allowed to visit the offices of the Physical Planning Unit to inspect the application lodged by SVG Aggregate Inc.
“…In this particular case the application is very easy because it is an application in-principle. In other words, the people who want to build the jetty – people who have the quarry up in the mountain behind Layou – were saying essentially ‘lewe see if the planning authorities has any appetite for this,’” the Prime Minister noted.
He added that if the application was a ‘full’ one it would have had to be accompanied by an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.
In this case, the proposal was instead accompanied by an Environmental Impact Scoping Report prepared by a civil and environmental engineer.
When an application is made such as the one made by SVG Aggregate Inc, the Planning Authorities issue a notice in the newspapers informing the public and soliciting possible reactions.
This was done and the Layou residents have submitted formal objections and openly protested against the disturbance of the remaining beach they have available to them. They listed varied reasons.
The Prime Minister said, “the persons were not unreasonable in saying ‘listen, you have two jetties down there already’ – one of them is the Government which needs work to be done on it, that was there from donkey years, and one by C.O Williams because they have a quarry up in the bush too – something could be worked out with one of them.”
Gonsalves recalled that he spoke on the issue for the first time on a WEFM radio s programme on Monday, “And after I spoke on it the responsible person from Planning called me and told me that the Thursday before, on the 24th, that planning had considered that the matter in-principle and had refused.”
“But they apparently hadn’t communicated that because that was Thursday the 24th, then there was Friday, then there was the weekend, and I was on the radio on the Monday. I didn’t know that the Planning authorities, the Planning Board had dealt with it. But they called me and told me that they in fact dealt with it.”
He added, “I mean I could appreciate, a fella has a quarry, he wants to be able to get the materials out nuh without the expense and the confusion on the roads. And it makes sense going by the sea. But if you have two jetties there already, and one of them is not in any really good condition as the other one….I mean some arrangement could be made.”
The Prime Minister also advised persons that when an application is made it cannot be said that the Government is supporting it, and that he did not know of it.
Reiterating the process of application and the notice in the newspaper, he stated, “You can’t go from that and say because there’s an advertisement by the planning authorities that the Government is supporting it. The Government has nothing to do with it.”
“In the law itself there’s a kind of sweep up provision after you’ve gone through all the independent processes where the Cabinet may act in certain circumstances – but the law is there,” he also noted.
Later in the radio program he referenced the beach at Ottley Hall where a marina was established. He said that this beach was lost and it was a beautiful beach for bathing and at the time they attempted to have it built elsewhere.
“You’re talking to a man here who has sympathy in his heart and spirit for those who were raising the noise down at Layou in respect of Jackson Bay,” he said.
“The problem though is that when somebody makes an application those of us who are in Cabinet can’t go out and say ‘well listen we are opposed to that application’ because to do that, it means that politicians will be cutting across the Planning Board. The planning board has to be allowed to do its work.”
“But we mustn’t jump because an application is made and the Planning Board put out the advertisement to say the Government is supporting it,” not at the stage that the application was at, he noted.
“…So the persons with the quarry have to try and make some alternative arrangements,” Gonsalves concluded, “But all these things are practical things with life and living and production which we have to sort out.”