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…
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.
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
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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.
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