Environmental Consultant, Dr Reynold Murray
News
February 22, 2022
That old EIA should not have been used – Consultant

Local Environmental Consultant, Dr Reynold Murray says a study with more recent information should have been used to inform the decision to establish quarry operations in the Richmond area.

“I can’t see a planning authority accepting a document that is…12 years old; I can’t see a document that dated being accepted at this time, particularly after a catastrophic event on the island and without consultation with the people to see how their life situations have changed,” Murray said while speaking on the New Times radio programme yesterday.

“So I really think that if they are proposing to use this document — which I really think should not have been the case — but if they are proposing to use that document, it definitely needs to be updated, needs to be reviewed.”

Other professionals, like former Town Planner, Bentley Browne have also questioned the decision of the Physical Planning authorities to accept the dated document, noting that part of the planning approval system allows for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be accepted, refused or asked to be modified.

Browne, while speaking on radio on February 13, also commented that Cabinet has in the past gone over the head of the planning authority as it relates to projects in the country, a statement that was rejected by Senator Julian Francis, who said the government followed the correct procedures in the latest quarry deal.

Murray, whose firm, the Institute for Environmental Research and Technology (InERT), was engaged by Dominica-based Carib Sand and Stone to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment almost two decades ago, when the company was exploring the possibility to set up quarry operations in SVG.

The Environmentalist said the study was carried out in 2007 and published in 2008.

More than 10 years later, it was the same study that is being relied upon for its insight into the environmental impacts, as the St Lucia firm, Rayneau Group of Companies prepares to fully establish quarry operations in the North Leeward community very soon.

Murray noted that an EIA does not determine whether or not a project can be done, but rather provides information on the historic nature of the area in question.

He further stated that the final decision rests with the Planning authorities.

However, the Environmental Consultant said that while the document has baseline information that is useful, he did not think it was an appropriate study for this time.

“For one thing, we have had a major volcanic eruption and some landscape changes in the area. An environmental impact assessment needs to be current. It needs to take into consideration what is happening at the moment, what has happened in the past and how it’s going to impact the future,” Murray said.

He also noted that possible changes, particularly as it relates to population, farming activities and land dependence and overall environmental conditions needed to be given consideration.

Rayneau Group of Companies will carry out stone quarry operations on almost 59 acres of state lands in Richmond.

Murray disclosed that the company which contracted his services years ago would have concentrated the majority of its mining operations in rivers, with a smaller portion being on the headland in the area.

He said the EIA carried out was based specifically on the methodology that was proposed at the time.

“I don’t know what methodology these people are going to use, how they are going to do it, so I cannot say that things are the same and if it’s different, then obviously things don’t fit,” Murray said.

The establishment of the Richmond quarry has been the centre of discussion in recent weeks.

And as the consultant who carried out the EIA in 2008, Murray noted that he has received numerous calls on the issue, where some have questioned why he did not “speak out” about what was happening.

“It’s not a matter for me to speak out. I’m saying I did an assessment and that assessment is dated and I think if you are going to use it now, it needs some updating, more so, more than anything else the social aspect of it must be considered. That is the consultation of the people. We don’t do development in an area where the citizens don’t know what is happening. That is not acceptable by any of the standards…” he said.