Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 15th 2013 Contents A28
letters on a sunday Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt December 15, 2013
Quarry zones are "required"
by the Minerals Act of 2000.
The Ministry of Energy engaged
GWP Ltd, an English company,
to conduct a Strategic Environ-
mental Impact Assessment
Report (SEIA) to identify and
recommend quarries (Mining
Zones) across T&T.
Their work started in January
2013 and was due to be complet-
ed at the end of September 2013.
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea
(FFOS) were invited, along with
other public interest citizens and
stakeholders, to the first "public
consultation" in December
2013.... after the report had been
This was not a public consulta-
tion. It was dictatorial, undemoc-
ratic, and secretive:
There was no background
information provided beforehand
as to what was going to be the
subject of the "public consulta-
tion," even though FFOS wrote
There was no open comment
period to allow attendees to voice
The SEIA Report which
formed the basis of the entire
"public consultation" process was
deemed to be too confidential to
share with the attendees. Imagine
you are being asked to participate
in a "public consultation" process
and you are not permitted to
view the document that is
underlying the entire consulta-
tion?Many of the responses pro-
vided were vague.
Attendees were warned not
to try to get the SEIA Report
even under the Freedom of Infor-
mation Act, (FOIA) as this was
clothed with Cabinet secrecy.
What can be so confidential in a
report on quarrying zones in
T&T?There were no maps clearly
showing the proposed mining
There was a failure to con-
sult with the wider public to
inform the SEIA.
The nation s water security is
at stake. Should we not have had
meaningful public consultations
during the study period?
According to the Ministry of
Energy, the recommendations of
the SEIA will "allow" the Envi-
ronmental Management Authority
to grant a "blanket" Certificate of
Environmental Clearance (CEC)
to all existing and proposed
quarry activities in each of the
three dozen designated Mining
Zones. This, according to the
Ministry, will "simplify the
process" for the grant of quarry
licences and provide an "emerg-
ing framework for better regula-
tion of the industry".
FFOS expresses its strongest
dissatisfaction with how the
Ministry of Energy has gone
about conducting the SEIA. If
what has been proposed is
indeed appropriate and above
board, why were the consulta-
tions during the study not open
to public participation? Now that
the report has been finalised,
why not share it with the public?
The last significant study done
on quarrying in the Northern
Range was the EMA s 2004 State
of the Environment Report (SER),
prepared in collaboration with
civic society organisations, private
individuals, and employees of
several government ministries and
The SER focused on the
Northern Range because it is the
source of 80 per cent of our
drinking water. The SER noted
that environmental effects of
uncontrolled quarrying were cre-
ating "major problems", that
Northern Range watersheds were
becoming more degraded, and
that there was "a declining trend
in fresh water quality."
Key among the SER s recom-
mendations were to give priority
to rehabilitation and restoration
and where possible, to abandon
quarry sites to arrest erosion and
In stark contrast to the SEIA,
the EMA s 2004 SER suggested
that further quarrying in the
Northern Range be "disallowed"
and if necessary, quarry aggregate
was to be "imported." The SER
also noted that the situation in
the Northern Range could be
helped if there was "a champion
of the issues at the political
We doubt that the current
Minister of Energy is the "cham-
pion" we were waiting for.
In the public interest, FFOS
can find no good reason why the
SEIA must be kept secret.
The nation s potable water, and
the dangers of siltation and
flooding are not private, secretive
matters. In our respectful view a
cost-benefit analysis, comparing
the cost of the importation of
aggregate versus expanding quar-
ries in the Northern Range,
should be carried out before the
SEIA is finalised or implemented.
Based on the facts in hand,
FFOS are opposed to any "blan-
ket" CECs being issued. There is
no substitute for a transparent
consultative process where social,
environmental and economic val-
ues are considered equally.
The absence of transparency in
conducting the SEIA is consistent
with the Ministry of Energy s
support for unregulated seismic
surveys, that is, without the con-
duct of EIAs. The SEIA process
appears to be driven solely by big
business interests and is headed
for a confrontation with the
silent majority who value potable
fresh water over private short-
DEAR LETTER-WRITERS: Please note that before your letter can be published, we must have your full name and contact details, including a phone
number. Your contact information will not be published. Letters should be no more than 500 words long and may be edited for length and clarity.
Please send them by e-mail to: email@example.com or to: The Editor, T&T Guardian, 22 St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain.
to address crime
While the murders continue un-
abated, we just received another
round of stats coming from the
current Minister of National Secu-
rity. This time it's "ten known gang
members" who are apparently be-
hind most murders.
Perhaps the medium the Minis-
ter employed---the soundbites
under parliamentary privileges and
tended to send fear into the
hearts of criminals, never made its
way to the nation's landfills, hot
spots and killing gardens.
I recall a former Minister of Na-
tional Security, a Mr Martin
Joseph (appointed to that post in
2003), who, once upon a time, also
told us he knew how many gangs
He even knew their member-
ship, their numbers and location. In
this land of the ten-day wonder,
Mr Joseph has since faded away
into the distant past.
People have less confidence in
the police today, despite police
claims, and are refusing to report
crimes, because they see the po-
lice as a complete waste of time.
But using numbers to "mam-
aguy" a vulnerable population
makes good public relations.
I write about crime as I look at
our neighbour, Jamaica, and see
where they are and where we are.
There's a lot to learn from the Ja-
maican experience, as we share a
lot in common, including a dys-
functional, two-party system,
driven by megalomaniacs, who su-
perimpose party on the nation.
The tit-for-tat politics---of who
did what, and stole how much---
has become the precedent for
doing the same---with no shame.
Rudy Chato Paul, Sr
It is ironic to read in the papers
that the salaries of the Chief Jus-
tice and Judges are increasing by
the thousands, especially when
there have been so many exposés
over the last two weeks.
I was most disappointed to read
that a man like Calder Hart seems
to be escaping through the loop-
holes with no reasonable justifica-
It was even more disappointing
to see convict Lester Pitman be
awarded $147,000 in damages,
escape death row and then chal-
lenge the Chief Justice.
Imagine a man who brutally
murdered three people, escapes
his sentence. I can only imagine
how the family must be feeling.
There is no closure or sense of jus-
tice at all.
In stark contrast to the SEIA,
the EMA's 2004 SER
suggested that further
quarrying in the Northern
Range be 'disallowed'
and if necessary, quarry
aggregate was to be
FFOS: PROCESS FOR ESTABLISHING
MINING ZONES DICTATORIAL, SECRETIVE
GARY ABOUD, Secretary
TERRENCE BEDDOE, President
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea
cart to his
Links Archive December 14th 2013 December 16th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page