Impeded  access at Layou beach up for  review
The shoreline of the Layou beach
March 25, 2022

Impeded access at Layou beach up for review

The environmental impact scoping report submitted for the proposed new jetty project in Layou concluded that there currently do not appear to be any impacts that should halt implementation of the project. 

The report, which can be accessed at the offices of the Physical Planning Unit until today, March 25, is written to seek “approval in principle” from the physical planning authorities for the rock fill jetty and to “inform subsequent design and possible eventual Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the project.”

It is prepared by civil and environmental engineer, Brian George of Bra Nage Consulting Services who was commissioned by Aggregate SVG Inc, the entity which is seeking to establish the jetty to move heavy equipment and aggregate from the quarry in Palmiste Park Estate in the Layou mountains. 

The report notes that the project proposal “is considered to be a relatively simple engineering intervention” and “it is not envisaged that any negative impacts would occur that cannot be mitigated.”

The three impacts that were identified for further possible review are related to potential pollution from “small” leaks or spillage, access to the beach by the community and increased traffic flows. 

“The eventual ESIA would review and assess these potential impacts in detail and ensure adequate mitigating measures are incorporated into the project,” the engineer assures. 

It was emphasised that the scoping report is not an ESIA and is to guide the “possible subsequent ESIA” should it “be determined to be necessary.”

The site of the project has been estimated to cover approximately 15,000 sq ft and extend approximately 150ft from the shoreline. 

The proposed location includes a plot of private land, for which a purchase agreement has already been negotiated. The Chief Surveyor has been written to for permission for use of the seabed. A copy of a letter, signed by Raffique Dunbar, was included in the documents of the application. 

During the construction phase of the project, if it goes forward, the developers apparently intend to use heavy equipment in the form of loaders and excavators which shall be used to pack boulders on the land. A barge equipped with an excavator shall be used seaside for packing boulders.

The duration shall be some months, the width of the jetty is expected to be 35ft and the length beyond the shoreline is 120ft.

If they go ahead, it is planned that the company will construct “a pedestrian footpath from the existing village road to the beach for the community to utilise to access the beach” which shall be a permanent public thoroughfare.

It is said that it is proposed, though not detailed, that there will be the inclusion of construction of sheds to provide shade for the beach users. 

The environmental and social impacts covered in the report considers the construction phase and the operational phase. 
When it comes to the construction, the report anticipates dust in the air, and sediment in the sea. They say that the proposed structure is not anticipated to create changes in wave action that would create or accelerate erosion on the beach shoreline. 

It is said that there is envisaged “minimal biological impacts” as a consequence of construction.

The report cites the current environment as being relatively unstressed/pristine and they expect it to remain in this state during construction with “temporary disturbance only.”

As it concerns social impacts: noise and traffic were listed, but the level and duration are anticipated to be relatively “insignificant”.

It was said that there would be temporary jobs for construction workers.

The project would render the existing right of way ineffective from this time and a section of the beach would become inaccessible.

When it comes to operation of the jetty, the plan is for it to be “sporadic and intermittent although regular.”
“There are potential significant impacts on the ecological environment anticipated as a consequence of possible, albeit small, fuel and oil leaks and spillage that may occur,” they write. 

The report added that this risk exists for all jetty and wharf operations that can accommodate vehicles and equipment. 
“This proposed jetty is located at a significant distance (approximately 700ft) from the river outlet and would have no impact on the local ecosystem in this regard, nor any cultural traditions consequent upon such an ecosystem,” the civil and environmental engineer concluded.

 Social impacts of the operation of the jetty are listed as, firstly, increase and significant traffic flows of large trucks on the existing village road during loading exercises, presenting a safety concern. The same road to the proposed jetty provides access to the Layou Government School. 

It is proposed that interventions such as restricted hours of operations for loading, pedestrian crossings and traffic bumps may be required to mitigate this. 

The noise creation will be restricted to daylight and not significant, it is submitted.

The report acknowledges that a significant and high probability impact would be access and recreational use of the beach as the beach is “frequently and intensely utilised by the community for recreational purposes.”

“The project proposal has acknowledged this and had provided for alternate permanent access through the developers’ lands to access the beach,” the report says. 

It is expected that “up to 110ft” of shoreline would be lost, according to what is written, “but the remaining sections of beach would be adequate in terms of capacity to accommodate current requirements and be satisfactory to the needs of the community.”

It continues that “even during loading” operations the remaining sections of the beach can be used “once access is properly managed.”

The report says that it is accepted practice to consult with residents to “garner” acceptance and possible objections to such a project. 
As the project is located in a town, “this process would be desirable and necessary to mitigate the impacts and ensure acceptance”

 “It is considered highly likely that most if not all objections can be addressed and mitigated or avoided due to the relative simplicity of the project proposal,” the engineer submits. 

Further that, “The developer has also committed to include as part of the development the enhancement of the recreational space on the beach with covered areas to provide shade for the use of the community.”

The report also puts forward that there will be “very positive impacts” such as employment creation. 

The conclusion of the document outlines that, “There currently do not appear to be any impacts that should halt implementation of the project however once impact assessment is complete it is also obvious that mitigation measures would be required.” 

It was put forward that “it is anticipated that all potential impacts can be mitigated due to the lack of complexity of the proposed development and the level of experience and familiarity that exists locally with these types of projects.”