Categorized | Local, News

MDC CEO Browne is wrong

Browne is missing too much

by Bennette Roach

Charrette-misc-day-2-(7)

Opening of the Charette – delegates and offiicals at the side tables, invitees at the backIvan Browne (Jr) is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Montserrat Development Corporation, only when the threat of legal action condescended that it was important to talk to if only by radio (not consult) with the general public on matters relating to, according to him the biggest project undertaken by Montserrat.

The MDC and ultimately the CEO have been accused of not consulting with or adequately informing or  keeping the public informed about the activities surrounding its main mandate to deliver or develop Little Bay, a town centre and port.

Mr. Browne prior to his appearance on public radio ZJB has been involved in a dialogue with The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) after he accused the Reporter as follows: “Dear Editor: We have seen a number of letters in your newspaper lately containing information about MDC, its activities and staffing that are not factual. We are writing this letter to present the facts.”

Charrette-misc-day-2-(30)

Group B in action during the Charette

See in this issue “Browne takes issue of TMR publishing not factual matters in letters to the Reporter”. http://www.themontserratreporter.com/browne-claims-tmr-publishing-not-factual-matters-in-letters-to-the-reporter/

In addition to this we believe Browne was driven to respond, perhaps in particular to the Pipers Pond ‘debate’ and sentiments raised along with the threat of litigation to halt the what the British Audit Committee on Environmental Sustainability refers to as, destructive development at Pipers Pond (the only remaining mangrove area on the island.

Browne set about in his first appearance to present what he claimed of personal knowledge of the facts from 2011 (he took up his job in July 2013), misrepresenting them and at times contradicting.

He sought to jog people’s memory and prompted by Basil he said on the breakfast show, “…in late 2011 a charette held at the cultural center, attendees included experience hoteliers,  investors,  architects,  government ministers and officials the honourable leader  of the opposition  civic groups and all interested local resident who invited to attend.  The result of this coming together with a master plan that was endorsed by all present. There was a 90 days public consultation period which include visit to all the communities in the Island, and so the comments received were incorporated into the final document.”

Charrette-misc-day-2-(19)

Group A – second day deliberations – defending the first master plan

Between Oct 5-7, 2011, there were was an opening ceremony where invited were eight (8) GoM Officials plus H E the Governor and Members of the Legislative Assembly; and ten others of the private sector, included in the list he made to sound like a crowd. Along with those who attended in the bigger conference room at the Cultural Centre were 12 visiting delegates who would participate and inform the discussions and deliberations over the next three days.

It is not correct to say that all present endorsed for the one plan of the two presented. Within 12 hours following the final presentation of the plans, the Premier still Chief Minister had decided and invited the presenters of the preferred plan to firm up plans of what would become the ‘key point’ of the Strategic Growth Development Plan (SGDP) and Montserrat’s future, Little Bay, Carr’s Bay (port and town centre). The SGDP would later become the SGP, but covered all Montserrat, which was signed off with DFID/HMG six months later on May 1, 2012.

It is not correct to say that, “There was a 90 days public consultation period which include visit to all the communities in the Island, and so the comments received were incorporated into the final document,” giving the impression that this had to do only with the Charette decisions, and the evolving master plan therefrom.

Group B - favoured

Group B – favoured – their plan was first choice

This had to do with the Physical Development Plan (PDP) for the island, finalized in October, 2012. This document has a very small paragraph dealing with Pipers Pond, which said:  “Pipers Pond Conservation Area…under the provisions of the PPA (Schedule Three) an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) will be required for any development proposals likely to impact on this site.”

aerials-Davy-Hill-Oct-25

Davy Hill in the foreground, market under construction with Pipers Pond beyond

In a Cabinet Decision dated 21st June, 2012 by Section 7, the Planning and Development Authority is required to submit the revised draft development plan for approval of the Governor-in-Council, through the Minister; this dealt with the Little Bay and Carr’s Bay development. That notice was published in the newspaper and Gazette.

While Browne said that no other project was consulted on as the foregoing, he went on to state that at forum there were as few as one person in attendance. He did not say what was done to make the forums consultative in spite of the several planned consultations. TMR did not receive one invitation to cover any of these consultations and cannot confirm the attendance but rely on that contradicting fact from Browne. The size of the ad as required to be published was meaningless to the public and no request was made to have it published on TMR website which would have given it a much better perspective and reach the thousands (including the diaspora) it was probably expected to reach.

“Every opportunity was given to the people to have input to the formulation of the master plan,” is very subjective when no honest effort was made to reach the people.

TMR is grateful to the Leader of the Opposition’s office, who presented a release in a timeline fashion referencing the Pipers Pond unfortunate situation.

“In recent days there has been a fair amount of public concern regarding the ongoing excavation and filling in of Pipers Pond. In responses to thee concerns, the CEO of MDC has made assertions that the captioned final report of the PDP which contains a “Strategic Environmental Assessment, “ is or contains an Environmental Impact Assessment under the terms of the Physical Planning Act.

Looking-from-sea-end-up-to-market-(1)

Pipers Pond being desecrated, after GoM declaration – it being ‘not protected’

In fact, this is the statement in the report, as screen captured from a requested PDF copy of the said report, it being very hard or impossible to find it on the GoM web site: The insert here is the same as above, dealing with the small paragraph on Pipers Pond Conservation Area.

Clearly, this is a call for an EIA, not an EIA in itself. An explanation by MDC is called for, especially in light of the June 2012 Cabinet report that indicated that the pond’s protected status and need for an EIA were to be “rescinded.” That is, cancelled.

It goes on to reference “Statement in Consultants’ final report on the PDP, regarding Piper’s Pond and EIA requirements:

Policy declaration in the draft PDP, regarding Piper’s Pond, p. 107:

Nb: statement, PDP draft, p. 7:

well as Cabinet Business April – June 2012, pp 4 – 5:

The foregoing confirms HMG’s Audit Committee on Environmental Sustainability finding that in Montserrat “It is notable also that, against much local feeling to maintain sites of biological and cultural importance, the DFID-dominated government in Montserrat is allowing—and indeed promoting—destructive development at Pipers Pond (the only remaining mangrove area on the island), Carr’s Bay Battery historical site and the historic cemetery. “

The Montserrat public through the protest of e.g. the National Trust and others, were no doubt of the opinion put forward by the Committee:  “Other approaches retaining these features would have been quite feasible.”

GoM through their leader and his Cabinet directed the destruction of Pipers Pond and Gun Hill all in the name of development clearly unsustainable from the beginning, only to be told later by DFID Minister of State, “I cannot justify this level of investment…”  but will support a much smaller scale port. (See Editorial for more)

 

 

 

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Browne is missing too much

by Bennette Roach

Charrette-misc-day-2-(7)

Opening of the Charette – delegates and offiicals at the side tables, invitees at the backIvan Browne (Jr) is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Montserrat Development Corporation, only when the threat of legal action condescended that it was important to talk to if only by radio (not consult) with the general public on matters relating to, according to him the biggest project undertaken by Montserrat.

The MDC and ultimately the CEO have been accused of not consulting with or adequately informing or  keeping the public informed about the activities surrounding its main mandate to deliver or develop Little Bay, a town centre and port.

Insert Ads Here

Mr. Browne prior to his appearance on public radio ZJB has been involved in a dialogue with The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) after he accused the Reporter as follows: “Dear Editor: We have seen a number of letters in your newspaper lately containing information about MDC, its activities and staffing that are not factual. We are writing this letter to present the facts.”

Charrette-misc-day-2-(30)

Group B in action during the Charette

See in this issue “Browne takes issue of TMR publishing not factual matters in letters to the Reporter”. http://www.themontserratreporter.com/browne-claims-tmr-publishing-not-factual-matters-in-letters-to-the-reporter/

In addition to this we believe Browne was driven to respond, perhaps in particular to the Pipers Pond ‘debate’ and sentiments raised along with the threat of litigation to halt the what the British Audit Committee on Environmental Sustainability refers to as, destructive development at Pipers Pond (the only remaining mangrove area on the island.

Browne set about in his first appearance to present what he claimed of personal knowledge of the facts from 2011 (he took up his job in July 2013), misrepresenting them and at times contradicting.

He sought to jog people’s memory and prompted by Basil he said on the breakfast show, “…in late 2011 a charette held at the cultural center, attendees included experience hoteliers,  investors,  architects,  government ministers and officials the honourable leader  of the opposition  civic groups and all interested local resident who invited to attend.  The result of this coming together with a master plan that was endorsed by all present. There was a 90 days public consultation period which include visit to all the communities in the Island, and so the comments received were incorporated into the final document.”

Charrette-misc-day-2-(19)

Group A – second day deliberations – defending the first master plan

Between Oct 5-7, 2011, there were was an opening ceremony where invited were eight (8) GoM Officials plus H E the Governor and Members of the Legislative Assembly; and ten others of the private sector, included in the list he made to sound like a crowd. Along with those who attended in the bigger conference room at the Cultural Centre were 12 visiting delegates who would participate and inform the discussions and deliberations over the next three days.

It is not correct to say that all present endorsed for the one plan of the two presented. Within 12 hours following the final presentation of the plans, the Premier still Chief Minister had decided and invited the presenters of the preferred plan to firm up plans of what would become the ‘key point’ of the Strategic Growth Development Plan (SGDP) and Montserrat’s future, Little Bay, Carr’s Bay (port and town centre). The SGDP would later become the SGP, but covered all Montserrat, which was signed off with DFID/HMG six months later on May 1, 2012.

It is not correct to say that, “There was a 90 days public consultation period which include visit to all the communities in the Island, and so the comments received were incorporated into the final document,” giving the impression that this had to do only with the Charette decisions, and the evolving master plan therefrom.

Group B - favoured

Group B – favoured – their plan was first choice

This had to do with the Physical Development Plan (PDP) for the island, finalized in October, 2012. This document has a very small paragraph dealing with Pipers Pond, which said:  “Pipers Pond Conservation Area…under the provisions of the PPA (Schedule Three) an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) will be required for any development proposals likely to impact on this site.”

aerials-Davy-Hill-Oct-25

Davy Hill in the foreground, market under construction with Pipers Pond beyond

In a Cabinet Decision dated 21st June, 2012 by Section 7, the Planning and Development Authority is required to submit the revised draft development plan for approval of the Governor-in-Council, through the Minister; this dealt with the Little Bay and Carr’s Bay development. That notice was published in the newspaper and Gazette.

While Browne said that no other project was consulted on as the foregoing, he went on to state that at forum there were as few as one person in attendance. He did not say what was done to make the forums consultative in spite of the several planned consultations. TMR did not receive one invitation to cover any of these consultations and cannot confirm the attendance but rely on that contradicting fact from Browne. The size of the ad as required to be published was meaningless to the public and no request was made to have it published on TMR website which would have given it a much better perspective and reach the thousands (including the diaspora) it was probably expected to reach.

“Every opportunity was given to the people to have input to the formulation of the master plan,” is very subjective when no honest effort was made to reach the people.

TMR is grateful to the Leader of the Opposition’s office, who presented a release in a timeline fashion referencing the Pipers Pond unfortunate situation.

“In recent days there has been a fair amount of public concern regarding the ongoing excavation and filling in of Pipers Pond. In responses to thee concerns, the CEO of MDC has made assertions that the captioned final report of the PDP which contains a “Strategic Environmental Assessment, “ is or contains an Environmental Impact Assessment under the terms of the Physical Planning Act.

Looking-from-sea-end-up-to-market-(1)

Pipers Pond being desecrated, after GoM declaration – it being ‘not protected’

In fact, this is the statement in the report, as screen captured from a requested PDF copy of the said report, it being very hard or impossible to find it on the GoM web site: The insert here is the same as above, dealing with the small paragraph on Pipers Pond Conservation Area.

Clearly, this is a call for an EIA, not an EIA in itself. An explanation by MDC is called for, especially in light of the June 2012 Cabinet report that indicated that the pond’s protected status and need for an EIA were to be “rescinded.” That is, cancelled.

It goes on to reference “Statement in Consultants’ final report on the PDP, regarding Piper’s Pond and EIA requirements:

Policy declaration in the draft PDP, regarding Piper’s Pond, p. 107:

Nb: statement, PDP draft, p. 7:

well as Cabinet Business April – June 2012, pp 4 – 5:

The foregoing confirms HMG’s Audit Committee on Environmental Sustainability finding that in Montserrat “It is notable also that, against much local feeling to maintain sites of biological and cultural importance, the DFID-dominated government in Montserrat is allowing—and indeed promoting—destructive development at Pipers Pond (the only remaining mangrove area on the island), Carr’s Bay Battery historical site and the historic cemetery. “

The Montserrat public through the protest of e.g. the National Trust and others, were no doubt of the opinion put forward by the Committee:  “Other approaches retaining these features would have been quite feasible.”

GoM through their leader and his Cabinet directed the destruction of Pipers Pond and Gun Hill all in the name of development clearly unsustainable from the beginning, only to be told later by DFID Minister of State, “I cannot justify this level of investment…”  but will support a much smaller scale port. (See Editorial for more)