Long Beach developers, Barbados government – limiting citizen access to Environmental Impact Assessment Report

Same old tricks by Developers & Barbados Government

Developers want to build a new hotel, commercial and residential complex at Long Beach, Christ Church. At this point I’m not sure whether I’m in favour of the project or not and I’d like to become more informed – but true to form the political and business elites are doing everything they can to prevent the public from effectively studying the environmental impact assessment report.

It just wouldn’t do to have citizens showing up at a meeting, armed with their own copies of the report after having been able to properly research and cross-check the contents. Informed discussion by a well-informed citizenry? Nope. Can’t have any of that happening in Barbados.

But don’t worry friends – the developers and the government have the environmental impact assessment report dance choreographed to the last step to prevent those bothersome citizens from interfering with what is probably already a done deal. One of their techniques is to ensure the environmental impact assessment report is studied by as few people as possible. Here’s how they do it…

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A newspaper advert indicates that the public meeting will be held on Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 7:30pm at St. Christopher Primary School, Christ Church “to discuss the environmental impact assessment report for the proposed residential, hotel and commercial development at Long Beach, Christ Church”

The advert further says that the Environmental Impact Assessment Report can be viewed from Thursday, 18 February to Wednesday 17 March, 2010 at The Town Planning Department, St. Christopher’s Primary School and the Oistins Library.

We’ve been down this road many times before folks, so we’re going to again tell you why and how your government and their developer friends are doing everything they can to prevent citizens from having effective access to the environmental impact assessment report about a major new development on our southern coast.

We citizens saw this before in 2006 when Matthew Kerins and his partners wanted to put a theme park in the Graeme Hall watershed. In 2006 we learned much about how slippery some developers can be – but nothing has changed since that time because the new DLP Government is doing the same things the BLP did:  treating citizens like mushrooms kept in the dark and fed horse manure.

Same old, same old ’bout hey…

– Only three paper copies of the Long Beach Environmental Impact Assessment Report are made available for the entire nation. Three copies, a quarter million citizens. You do the math.
– The report is not for sale at any price and is not placed online.
– The addendum to the report containing comments and observations from the Government regulatory bodies is not made available to the public, even though it is part of the report.
– Citizens arriving to examine the report are time-limited “so others can look at the report.” (300 plus pages of highly technical information. How fast can you read? You have 20 minutes… GO!)
– Citizens are not allowed to make photocopies of, or photograph, any parts of the report “because it is copyrighted and owned by the developers”.
– In some cases in the past few years citizens have not even been allowed to make handwritten notes while “studying” the hundreds of pages.

All of this is done to ensure that while the “letter of the law” has been fulfilled, no citizen will actually have reasonable access to the information contained in the report.

David Thompson and the Democratic Labour Party promised increased transparency & access to information. They promised changes in laws, changes in government attitudes and procedures that would give citizens meaningful access to supposedly public information. Our information.

In two years we’ve seen nothing but more of the same old, same old from the DLP. “Freedom of Information” does NOT mean community information meetings consisting of political speeches and performances by the local church choir. “Access to public information” does NOT mean three copies of an important report for a quarter of a million people.

Prime Minister Thompson – Please have the Long Beach Environmental Impact Assessment Report placed online now in a format that is searchable. Order the developers to make paper copies available for purchase at a reasonable price. Instruct the places where the report is on display to allow photographs and copies to be made of the report.

You promised us meaningful access to public information. You said things would change.

Mr. Prime Minister, it’s time you delivered on your promise.

Further Reading…

BFP, August 10, 2006: Caribbean Splash Waterpark – Excerpts From “Secret” Barbados Government Report

An opinion by “Bajan George”…

The 1998 Copyright Act augments Town and Country disclosure requirements. In addition, it clarifies the role of the Librarian to allow release of copies, as it is fair use.

Exceptions Relating to Public Administration

Parliamentary and judicial proceedings and statutory inquiries

65.

1. Copyright in a work is not infringed by anything done for the purposes of parliamentary or judicial proceedings or, subject to subsection (3), for the purposes of repealing such proceedings.
2. Copyright in a work is not infringed by anything done for the purposes of the proceedings of a statutory inquiry or, subject to subsection (3), for the purposes of reporting any such proceedings held in public.
3. The provisions of subsections (1) and (2) relating to the reporting of proceedings shall not be construed as authorising the copying of a work which is itself a published report of the proceedings.
4. Copyright in a work is not infringed by the issue to the public of copies of the report of a statutory inquiry containing the work or material from it.
5. In this section, “statutory inquiry” means an inquiry held or investigation conducted in pursuance of a duty imposed or power conferred by or under an enactment.

Public records

66. Where any protected work or a reproduction of any such work is comprised in any public record pursuant to any enactment which is, by virtue of that enactment open to public inspection, the copyright in the work is not infringed by the making or supplying to any person of any copy of the work by or under the direction of any officer appointed or acting under the authority of the enactment.

17 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Environment, Freedom Of Information, Real Estate

17 responses to “Long Beach developers, Barbados government – limiting citizen access to Environmental Impact Assessment Report

  1. window dressing

    This is a complete farce

    The owner has been telling people for years that he has the permissions in place. Unless he was completely lying, this is a case of filling in the blanks and backdating.

    Its all backroom dealing and the newspaper advertisements are mere insincere gestures of true and real transparency.

    For an historical Arawak site and swamp what is the developer proposing as mitigation and ongoing protection of this part of the site? What is the position of the Minister of Environemnt on these issues? How many informative press releases has he issued and how many Town Hall Meetings on this subject has he attended? What is his position?

    For an area that is right at ground level, what have the developers done in terms of building above the flood or tsunami level?

    What bonds or solid guarantees are in place for the citizens of Barbados if the developer defaults on his or its promises?

    Is this the kind of government that Barbadians expected to act in their best interests in January of 2008?

  2. Prepare to swim

    Do they think they can build behind the dunes at Long Beach? Near the road access at the west end? That is madness! The place is almost below sea level.

    Window dressing, do you know? Is that where this development is supposed to go?

  3. I want to touch on this issue in my new column do send any details to macholder67@gmail.com. Please tell what the law requires in the area of environmental impact studies and the dissemination of this information. What about heritage tourism? When is the first meeting I will attend.

  4. The Future Centre Trust has a new website as Public Relations Officer I am inviting you to visit http://www.futurecentretrust.org. Our if the operators of Barbados Free Press can promote our site on here. We are hoping to bring the new CEO of Greenpeace into Barbados for a lecture I have already gad contact with him. Yes I have signed up to Transparency International and yes eventually Special Branch gine have a file on me but thats life.

  5. Chicago

    Good article BFP. You really know how to cut through bullship to the heart of the matter.

  6. Environmental Planner

    As a professional Environmental Planner I have written and submitted a research paper to Town and Country and Costal Zone Management pretaining to this development. I have to date never received any call/mail on receipt of this document. This area should not be developed, it should be maintained as an Important Bird Area according to Bird International and the beach should be maintained as a National Sea Shire. This is the last remaining undeveloped windows to the sea on the south coast and has very sensative ecological habitat.
    That is my stance, I will not waver and I will be at the meeting and I will fight to the end! Bajans will need to come out in mass to protest this development in order for anything to happen. We shall not stand for this! Come one come all and speak out for your natural habitat that is degraded daily contaminating your water sources, killing your wildlife and taking away de people land to recreate.

  7. alan

    I live in the area and I have heard of various plans through the grapevine and am very interested in finding out what exactly is planned. This area is a natural haven for migrating birds and I would hate to see it destroyed to build another un-wanted development. I will definitely will be at the meeting.

  8. Adrian Loveridge

    Until we have a tourism development plan which clearly defines the direction we should be heading and the most sustainable use of prime oceanfront land over the next 5 to 15 years, we are going nowhere.

    Less than a mile from this proposed project is now seemingly abandoned cluster of 50 plus partially built condominiums called Sandcastles.

    At some stage, tourism policymakers will have to sit down and understand WHY our visitors come to Barbados and the careful balance between unbridled development and preserving the rapidly disappearing areas that can be described as oasis of peace.

  9. Nostradamus

    @Environmental Planner

    May I suggest that when you attend the Public Meeting you take a copy of your research paper and submit it to the head table.

    Kudos to the BarbadosLight & Power for placing their EIA on their website for the public to peruse.

    http://www.blpc.com.bb/co_envir.cfm

  10. SOP

    @Environmental Planner

    The 1988 Physical Development Plan shows a much different recommendation for preserving the area around Long Beach. The secret of the changes between 1988 and 2008 are in fine print, and on the maps.

    Just compare the 1988 version to the 2003(amended) PDP version and ask any resident of the area and anyone else if they knew about each and every one of the changes when they happened.

  11. Love

    Hi BFP,

    Now that you are speaking about development , do consider this excellent project between B’dos Gov’t and a local private developer at Coverley Christ Church.

    http://www.villagesatcoverley.net/

  12. Nostradamus

    @ alan

    And anyone else who is interested. Do not just attend the meeting. Be prepared and go and read the EIA. That’s how you find out what’s “going on”.

    It usually is a big document but focus on the executive summary and any maps.

    Check to see if it has an addendum to the report containing comments and observations from the Government regulatory bodies. If it does definitely try to copy that.

    If you go to the Oistins Public Library get the EIA and sit and look at it. After a little while, and without making a fuss, just say you want to make some copies. Try to copy the most relevant parts.

    You will have to pay for the copies.

  13. window dressing

    If you can believe it, the previous building permissions adjacent to the proposed development actually allowed some basements and within a very short time had flooding problems. It boggles the mind.

    There are undoubtedly set backs from the dunes but pay careful attention to public parking and public access to the Beach, protection of the swamp and other such issues. It should be the developers obligation to look after all these public areas into the future as part of their planning approval.

    In Barbados these public and practical issues are completely ignored in favour of the developer.

    All owners should give a clear waiver to the citizens and government of Barbados registered against the title in the event of flooding, tidal and Tsunami issues.

    The fact that locals still have not had full and complete notice of all the issues surrounding this development demonstrates that nothing has changed in Barbados.

  14. Bajan George

    We have lost our way. We can discuss the technicalities of development and government notifications all day long, but the area was never supposed to be developed in the first place. The recommendation was to keep it as a conservation preserve as recommended in the 1988 PDP and other documents. There are some smart young people in the Ministry of Environment who should pick up on that if they do their homework.

  15. Tudor

    PDP are changed just look at the Graeme Hall issue. it would be a pity to allow any further developement in this area, but hey doesn’t Mark Cummins CTP live in this area?

  16. as bad as the previous regime, and may get worse

    Look, a Q:
    How do you spoil a national park (choose any national treasue)?

    A: One development at a time.

    Bring the Dominica stash. Yippee!!

    You forget the crimes against the visitors to the area, including locals.

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