Editor: The pen is always mightier than the sword … straight to the point! I was shocked but not surprised when I heard our PM slighting the residents of Fitzhughes, stating in a matter of fact way that it was only the persons dwelling in Fitzhughes that might be affected by the dust from the quarry project, as if those Vincentians don’t deserve the right to a decent quality of life. I want to ask the ‘Comrade’ if he would like a billion $ quarry project close to his home at Gorse where the environment is akin to the constant bombardment in the Ukraine, with dust and noise on a daily basis?
You see, we cannot have a leader forcing his way on a project that should never have started without an environmental impact assessment. That is WRONG ! As I stated in a previous opinion, if the ULP was in Opposition, no government in power could have moved one pebble without an environmental study and its recommendations ! A weak Opposition has reneged on its responsibility to be the true champion of the people, but it is not too late to bring a motion in Parliament to halt that project until an environmental assessment study is done, it is a pre-requisite for projects of that magnitude which MUST be done ! This breach of due process needs the intervention of our Governor General in the absence of a progressive Opposition.
We cannot allow what happened with the failed Union Island marina project to be repeated with the destruction of prime agricultural lands albeit on a solid base in some areas. There are alternative locations on the flanks of our volcano just a mile or two further down the coast that will probably yield bigger and faster results without having to strip nearby agricultural lands. But there too, an EIA will be required but with less social impacts, because let’s face it, the environment has to be destroyed in order to get the stones, so there must be and will be destruction and pollution, but we have to keep that pollution to a minimum and far from residents. Ask residents in Layou who live near the quarry how they cope with the constant dust and noise.
At the moment and even without a formal social impact assessment, the negatives to this project at its current location outweigh the losses incurred by the farmers and businesses operating in that area. The Tourism site at Dark View will be affected, the Richmond Vale Academy will be affected, Tri Tri culture will be affected, dust and noise from the quarry operations will affect nearby residents, agriculture will be affected, the water borne sediment will affect fishing and the marine environment, the flora and fauna will definitely be affected and even the beach gravel miners will be affected … This could have been avoided if a proper EIA and Social assessment was done.
Let good sense prevail. Let this project be halted until an assessment is done to avoid irreparable damage to our environment. The following may not happen with this project, but the failed Union Island marina project caused rats from Union to cross over on manmade structures to Frigate rock which is the nesting place of sea birds and other birds endemic to SVG. These invasive rats, in order to survive invade bird nests eating the eggs and killing the fledglings. So the perceived development and benefits from these pie in the sky projects can actually turn out to be detrimental to our ecology. Thanks to concerned environmentalists in Union, that problem is now being addressed.
And finally, what if after the 7 year review or before, findings are that what they thought was plenty rocks was not as bountiful as they anticipated ? What guarantees and funding will be in place to repair the resultant environmental damage ? Let’s not rush too quickly, government admitted having dropped the ball on several occasions in this project…never notified farmers and other businesses in the area, NO Environmental impact and social impact assessment, no definitive relocation or compensation for farmers and businesses. You see one wrong leads to another, then another and a domino effect ensues, with a lot of losers and no winners. Do the EIA study for another area lower down the coast and another one for the Gorse area.
Donald De Riggs