Categorized | Letters, News

Is it the sand miners’ pockets first, or overall economic benefit to the entire island?

Dear Editor:

Though no longer the full time Montserrat residents we were for 12 years, we maintain our home here, continue to contribute to Montserrat’s economy and stay current on all things Montserrat.  With that in mind, we wish to share our reactions to the Meeting of the Minds.

We listened online to the discussion multiple times.  One of the glaring differences between the presentations by the Mining Sector’s and the Property Owners Association’s representatives was what each felt necessary enough and important enough to mention.  The Mining Sector’s representative chose to outline why unrestricted mining in the Belham and an Isles Bay jetty location maximized the economic benefits TO THE MINING INDUSTRY ITSELF without considering how that location does not maximize the industry’s overall economic benefit to the entire island once that location’s negative, detracting economic consequences are factored into account.

The representative said, “A facility at the southern end of Isles Bay…would be better suited TO SERVE THE INDUSTRY,”  and, “… the Isles Bay area is close to in many cases and better than in most cases, a location for [a] facility TO ESTABLISH THE INDUSTRY.”  He chose not to outline the consequences for the surrounding areas and he chose not to even try to rationalize how locating the industry in the lower Belham could possibly serve THE ISLAND’S best interests.  Thus, it would seem clear from the speaker’s chosen emphasis that what’s important to the mining sector is what’s best for the mining sector alone.

Do the mining sector’s representative’s statements imply the mining industry does not believe negative consequences exist to the surrounding area where the industry locates?  From what the representative says, it is obvious the industry DOES understand and know its negative consequences  but considers them important only when arguments are brought up for locating their facilities in an area that MAY NOT maximize their own profits.  “At some point in time,” he said, “it is anticipated that the volcanic activity will stop, least that is our hope….When this occurs and areas now classified as unsafe become safe, owners of the land and properties in those areas will want to reoccupy them. IF AN ESTABLISHED INDUSTRIAL ECONOMIC ACTIVITY IS IN PLACE WHEN THIS OCCURS WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT ON THE WEEKES, CORK HILL AND FOXES BAY COMMUNITIES?”  Thus, the industry seems to believe the island should be concerned about their industry’s future impact to areas abandoned and unplanned for in the last 13 years or more, but not be concerned about the consequences of establishing their industrial economic activity in areas ALREADY OCCUPIED AND IN PLACE within the current Safe Zone.   It seems transparently obvious that this reasoning has to do with self interest.

We do not think anyone would dispute that the mining industry  can maximize its own profits if the industry and its facilities are in the lower Belham.  BUT AT WHAT COST TO THE ISLAND?  If you listen to the Property Owners’ presentation, it’s difficult not to notice how often they chose to talk about what, in their opinion, is best for the island as a whole, not just their own self interests.  Do you hear the same concern voiced by the mining industry?

In the interests of full disclosure, we have chosen to contribute to the Belham Fund though we are not members of nor are we speaking for any group.  We contribute for two reasons:

1. We believe that a legal right to establish an industry in the Belham Valley is in question  and would need to be established by the courts if it’s to be allowed.  If attracting foreign capital to the island remains as a desired cornerstone of the island’s economy, proceeding without regard for law will have immense and long term consequences internationally for the island.

2.  Based on the goals and defined strategies in place to guide the island’s future as we understand them, we truly believe establishment of a sand mining industry in the lower Belham inclusive of an export jetty at Isles Bay would not be in the best interests of the island as a whole.  Believing in the sand mining industry’s potential, yet aware of its inarguable negative impact to significant, pre-existing economic activity sources in surrounding areas benefiting all if allowed to be located in the lower Belham and Isles Bay, it’s difficult, at least for us, not to conclude that a  compromise position of restricting mining to the upper Belham and a Foxes Bay jetty would be the best way forward  to maximize the overall economic contribution of a mining industry to the island in its entirety.

We believe the mining industry can be and should be a contributor to the island’s prosperity  and, as the representative of the Mining Sector said, it could be another cornerstone of the island’s future development.  However, if the Sector’s self interests also threaten to severely and unnecessarily  impair residential tourism, another of the island’s already established economic cornerstones, then its contribution nationally will be annulled.

For those who know us, we believe,  through the choices of activities and organizations we elected to participate in or organize, we established our interest in and ability to put the island’s long term interests and needs, as we understand them, first in our hearts,.  This issue is no different.  We believe everyone needs to take the time to study the issues, listen fairly to the representatives of all sides, and voice your opinion.  This issue is far too important to the island’s future not to.

Our Best to the Island

Douglas and Debby Darby

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Dear Editor:

Though no longer the full time Montserrat residents we were for 12 years, we maintain our home here, continue to contribute to Montserrat’s economy and stay current on all things Montserrat.  With that in mind, we wish to share our reactions to the Meeting of the Minds.

We listened online to the discussion multiple times.  One of the glaring differences between the presentations by the Mining Sector’s and the Property Owners Association’s representatives was what each felt necessary enough and important enough to mention.  The Mining Sector’s representative chose to outline why unrestricted mining in the Belham and an Isles Bay jetty location maximized the economic benefits TO THE MINING INDUSTRY ITSELF without considering how that location does not maximize the industry’s overall economic benefit to the entire island once that location’s negative, detracting economic consequences are factored into account.

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The representative said, “A facility at the southern end of Isles Bay…would be better suited TO SERVE THE INDUSTRY,”  and, “… the Isles Bay area is close to in many cases and better than in most cases, a location for [a] facility TO ESTABLISH THE INDUSTRY.”  He chose not to outline the consequences for the surrounding areas and he chose not to even try to rationalize how locating the industry in the lower Belham could possibly serve THE ISLAND’S best interests.  Thus, it would seem clear from the speaker’s chosen emphasis that what’s important to the mining sector is what’s best for the mining sector alone.

Do the mining sector’s representative’s statements imply the mining industry does not believe negative consequences exist to the surrounding area where the industry locates?  From what the representative says, it is obvious the industry DOES understand and know its negative consequences  but considers them important only when arguments are brought up for locating their facilities in an area that MAY NOT maximize their own profits.  “At some point in time,” he said, “it is anticipated that the volcanic activity will stop, least that is our hope….When this occurs and areas now classified as unsafe become safe, owners of the land and properties in those areas will want to reoccupy them. IF AN ESTABLISHED INDUSTRIAL ECONOMIC ACTIVITY IS IN PLACE WHEN THIS OCCURS WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT ON THE WEEKES, CORK HILL AND FOXES BAY COMMUNITIES?”  Thus, the industry seems to believe the island should be concerned about their industry’s future impact to areas abandoned and unplanned for in the last 13 years or more, but not be concerned about the consequences of establishing their industrial economic activity in areas ALREADY OCCUPIED AND IN PLACE within the current Safe Zone.   It seems transparently obvious that this reasoning has to do with self interest.

We do not think anyone would dispute that the mining industry  can maximize its own profits if the industry and its facilities are in the lower Belham.  BUT AT WHAT COST TO THE ISLAND?  If you listen to the Property Owners’ presentation, it’s difficult not to notice how often they chose to talk about what, in their opinion, is best for the island as a whole, not just their own self interests.  Do you hear the same concern voiced by the mining industry?

In the interests of full disclosure, we have chosen to contribute to the Belham Fund though we are not members of nor are we speaking for any group.  We contribute for two reasons:

1. We believe that a legal right to establish an industry in the Belham Valley is in question  and would need to be established by the courts if it’s to be allowed.  If attracting foreign capital to the island remains as a desired cornerstone of the island’s economy, proceeding without regard for law will have immense and long term consequences internationally for the island.

2.  Based on the goals and defined strategies in place to guide the island’s future as we understand them, we truly believe establishment of a sand mining industry in the lower Belham inclusive of an export jetty at Isles Bay would not be in the best interests of the island as a whole.  Believing in the sand mining industry’s potential, yet aware of its inarguable negative impact to significant, pre-existing economic activity sources in surrounding areas benefiting all if allowed to be located in the lower Belham and Isles Bay, it’s difficult, at least for us, not to conclude that a  compromise position of restricting mining to the upper Belham and a Foxes Bay jetty would be the best way forward  to maximize the overall economic contribution of a mining industry to the island in its entirety.

We believe the mining industry can be and should be a contributor to the island’s prosperity  and, as the representative of the Mining Sector said, it could be another cornerstone of the island’s future development.  However, if the Sector’s self interests also threaten to severely and unnecessarily  impair residential tourism, another of the island’s already established economic cornerstones, then its contribution nationally will be annulled.

For those who know us, we believe,  through the choices of activities and organizations we elected to participate in or organize, we established our interest in and ability to put the island’s long term interests and needs, as we understand them, first in our hearts,.  This issue is no different.  We believe everyone needs to take the time to study the issues, listen fairly to the representatives of all sides, and voice your opinion.  This issue is far too important to the island’s future not to.

Our Best to the Island

Douglas and Debby Darby