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Pipers Pond: Has Montserrat been intentionally mislead by the DFID and the MDC?

Pipers-Pond-becomes-Pipers-Lake-(20)By S. O’Garro

The development/destruction of Piper’s Pond has been followed with very keen interest because it has gone from a designation of untouchable (a place of intrinsic environmental value) to a piece of real estate that is key to the development of the new town centre. I have followed both the arguments from the community and the rebuttals from the Montserrat Development Cooperation (MDC).

For you who might be happening on the Piper’s Pond issue as a sole result of this article the arguments surround whether or not an environmental impact assessment has been undertaken for the development of the area by the MDC thus rendering the development legal or illegal. What is the point of the discussion one might ask?

From my perspective, the point of the matter is that two thirds of the island has been destroyed by volcanic activity and most of us who were teens and young adults at the start are now middle aged and are very aware that it will be decades before any noticeable improvements to the environment will be realized. Therefore let us not destroy or rather let us not permit anyone to destroy the third that is left in an effort that the children Good Lord has blessed us with and their children may enjoy some, if not all, of what we have enjoyed, (pristine beaches, uncontaminated fish, magnificent coral reefs, picturesque coast lines) a true Emerald Isle, Gem of the Caribbean.

Pipers-Pond-becomes-Pipers-Lake-(12)In an article posted on 11th April 2014 on Spirit of Montserrat online entitled “MDC CEO moves to bring closure to the Piper’s Pond issue by addressing the public” by Shirlian it was stated that:

the MDC CEO confirms that DFID funded a report on the Little Bay Master Plan. Mr. Browne said the plan provided a review to ensure that it promoted sustainable development through the integration of social, environmental and economic considerations. The MDC boss posited that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) part of the review dealt with Piper’s Pond.

Dr. Kato Kimbugwe also indicated in an April Governor’s press conference that the DFID did in fact further engage IMC Worldwide LTD to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment on its behalf and that the EIA was included as part of the entire document in the form of the Physical Development Plan and even invited us to “read” the document for ourselves to confirm his assertions. Kato further indicated that a copy of the EIA can be had from either the Department of the Environment or the Physical Planning Unit. His exact words were: “there was the PDP, which was the Physical Development Plan which looked at everything from a planning perspective but also the environmental impact as well as the social impact. The PDP which is the document that’s available at the Physical Planning Unit because they work with part and parcel with the Department of Environment. And we specifically paid for a company to come in and do the social and environmental Impact Assessment because ….we wanted to make sure that the PDP took cognizance of the environmental issues in Montserrat.”

Pipers-Pond-becomes-Pipers-Lake-(3)Well, KATO, I read through the Physical Development Plan, visited the Physical Planning Unit and the Department of the Environment to enquire of the E.I.A and it is nowhere to be found. As the matter of fact it was found out that the Department of the Environment made several requests to the MDC for the E.I.A and to date none has been forthcoming. As a result it is only fair to conclude that both the MDC CEO and the DFID’s Enterprise adviser were far from telling the truth to the people of Montserrat and it’s Diaspora on the Piper’s Pond development.

To better assist those who might have the need to verify my assertions, it is Appendix H of the Physical Development Plan which is entitled The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Process that Kato and Ivan Brown are likening to an Environment Impact Assessment. In the PDP, the definition adopted for the SEA was that from OECD/DAC Guidelines for applying SEA’s as: “A range of analytical and participatory approaches that aim to integrate environmental considerations into policies, plans and programmes and evaluate the inter linkages with economic and social considerations”

Whereas an Environmental Impact is developed: “To ensure that planning decisions are made with full knowledge of a project’s likely significant environmental effects, and that any negative effects are prevented, reduced or offset, while positive effects are enhanced.”

Kato of all people should be aware that not because something comes from the sea means that it is a fish. An EIA informs design whereas an SEA informs strategy, and the design is developed after a strategy has been formulated.

Pipers-Pond-After-drainage-(5)

Pipers Pond after drainage

In 2010 Roger Clarke, DFID’s Programme Manager for Caribbean Territories and Regional Programmes wrote to Angela Greenaway (presently Board Member at MDC) on Piper’s outlining the requirements if any work should be taken in Piper’s Pond which reads: –“I am writing to express DFID’s concern over the lack of environmental management at the Little Bay site. Works have been undertaken which contravene Montserrat’s Forests, Wildlife and National Parks Act 2002 and Physical Planning Act 2002, and which fall far short of standard international practice.

I wrote … confirming an approach which had been agreed with relevant GoM officials for works at the entrance to Piper’s Pond. Our agreement was that The Department of Environment would assess the environmental impacts likely to result from the proposed works. They would then also draw up a management plan setting out how the work should be carried out to minimize the negative environmental impacts on the surrounding area. The Department of Environment (would) oversee the implementation of the drainage works.

We clearly identified the need for an Environmental Management Plan (EMP), which should set out the aims and objectives for environmental management, issues and areas to be considered, laws, regulations, and standards to be complied with, and management arrangements. A Contractor’s Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) is also required, which needs to set out how the Contractor will meet the requirements set out in the Government’s EMP. We also identified the need for specialist environmental monitoring to be put in place to oversee and report on the works and bring any issues to the attention of the relevant authority.

Piper-Pond-for-town-(5)Appropriate and thorough environmental assessment and management is designed to avoid delays and additional costs further down the line by identifying, mitigating, or managing environmental issues early on.

Kato and Ivan are again confronted with the question as to whether any of the above has been complied with for works in Piper’s Pond? Where is the Department of Environment, the Physical Planning Unit and the Planning and Development Authority in all of this as we have only heard from the MDC on this issue? Oh yes silent frustration of course.

Should works have progressed to the point it is now in the absence of an EIA? I think not because the MDC has at its disposal Mr. Franklin Greenaway who was Chief Physical Planner. He has a responsibility to advise his superiors that the works without an EIA violates section 18 (1) of the Physical Planning Act if aspects of the development are included in the 3rd Schedule. The 3rd Schedule includes land reclamation, dredging, marinas and port development. Piper’s Pond Development includes elements of dredging and land reclamation.

Pipers-Pond-becomes-Pipers-Lake-(22)Mr. Greenaway should have further advised that non compliance should ultimately and legally culminate in the issuance of a Notice of Compliance by the Planning and Development Authority(PDA) as per section 26 of the Physical Development Act to halt all works.

Works in Piper’s Pond does not only affect the swamp but the adjacent beach, fisheries, water quality etc. Surely for those of us who look to the sea for recreation and livelihood we have already noticed the change in water quality both in Carr’s Bay and Little Bay. Similarly, those of us who has years of training in Coastal Zone Management are intimately aware of the need for proper, not ad hoc/substandard, environmental assessment and management.

It is supposed that Kato had to react in the manner he did, i.e trying to cover his backside, because he realized, according to Roger Clarke, that “There are, financial risks as well as reputational risks of failing to comply with environmental regulations and standards.”

I am appealing to Montserrat and the powers that be that we don’t continue in silent frustration with this issue as the very essence of our survival is not solely dependent on development but sustainable development. The same PDP which was financed and referenced by DFID for the MDC highlights this in section 1 of the document which reads:

Piper-Pond-for-town-(1)Failure to respect and protect these areas will not only compromise the quality of life for future Montserratians, it will harm the very aspect of Montserrat that is central to its tourism product upon which economic recovery greatly depends“.

 

Let us learn from the lessons in Little Bay where the PDP also categorically stated “In 2011, Little Bay provides a case study in poor environmental management.” According to the PDP, we have already inflicted serious wounds on our environment within the Little Bay/Carr’s Bay areas let us not continue to do any more.

In summary, MDC through the April 11, 2014 news item , the intention could only have been to mislead Montserrat and its diaspora, because no Environmental Impact Assessment was ever undertaken for the works in Piper’s Pond. The current civil works being undertaken is being done illegally as without the EIA it contravenes section 18 (1) of the Physical Planning Act. The PDA, needs to do the right thing and ensure that all developments continue to comply not only with our laws but international best practice. Montserrat, we need to be courageously authentic and continuously raise awareness on the issues that has the potential to destroy the very fabric of our society and the things we stand for.

Finally in the words of TV Evangelists and Pastor of World Changers International Creflo Dollar “if we continue to do the things we do, we will always be where we have been“.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Pipers-Pond-becomes-Pipers-Lake-(20)By S. O’Garro

The development/destruction of Piper’s Pond has been followed with very keen interest because it has gone from a designation of untouchable (a place of intrinsic environmental value) to a piece of real estate that is key to the development of the new town centre. I have followed both the arguments from the community and the rebuttals from the Montserrat Development Cooperation (MDC).

For you who might be happening on the Piper’s Pond issue as a sole result of this article the arguments surround whether or not an environmental impact assessment has been undertaken for the development of the area by the MDC thus rendering the development legal or illegal. What is the point of the discussion one might ask?

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From my perspective, the point of the matter is that two thirds of the island has been destroyed by volcanic activity and most of us who were teens and young adults at the start are now middle aged and are very aware that it will be decades before any noticeable improvements to the environment will be realized. Therefore let us not destroy or rather let us not permit anyone to destroy the third that is left in an effort that the children Good Lord has blessed us with and their children may enjoy some, if not all, of what we have enjoyed, (pristine beaches, uncontaminated fish, magnificent coral reefs, picturesque coast lines) a true Emerald Isle, Gem of the Caribbean.

Pipers-Pond-becomes-Pipers-Lake-(12)In an article posted on 11th April 2014 on Spirit of Montserrat online entitled “MDC CEO moves to bring closure to the Piper’s Pond issue by addressing the public” by Shirlian it was stated that:

the MDC CEO confirms that DFID funded a report on the Little Bay Master Plan. Mr. Browne said the plan provided a review to ensure that it promoted sustainable development through the integration of social, environmental and economic considerations. The MDC boss posited that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) part of the review dealt with Piper’s Pond.

Dr. Kato Kimbugwe also indicated in an April Governor’s press conference that the DFID did in fact further engage IMC Worldwide LTD to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment on its behalf and that the EIA was included as part of the entire document in the form of the Physical Development Plan and even invited us to “read” the document for ourselves to confirm his assertions. Kato further indicated that a copy of the EIA can be had from either the Department of the Environment or the Physical Planning Unit. His exact words were: “there was the PDP, which was the Physical Development Plan which looked at everything from a planning perspective but also the environmental impact as well as the social impact. The PDP which is the document that’s available at the Physical Planning Unit because they work with part and parcel with the Department of Environment. And we specifically paid for a company to come in and do the social and environmental Impact Assessment because ….we wanted to make sure that the PDP took cognizance of the environmental issues in Montserrat.”

Pipers-Pond-becomes-Pipers-Lake-(3)Well, KATO, I read through the Physical Development Plan, visited the Physical Planning Unit and the Department of the Environment to enquire of the E.I.A and it is nowhere to be found. As the matter of fact it was found out that the Department of the Environment made several requests to the MDC for the E.I.A and to date none has been forthcoming. As a result it is only fair to conclude that both the MDC CEO and the DFID’s Enterprise adviser were far from telling the truth to the people of Montserrat and it’s Diaspora on the Piper’s Pond development.

To better assist those who might have the need to verify my assertions, it is Appendix H of the Physical Development Plan which is entitled The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Process that Kato and Ivan Brown are likening to an Environment Impact Assessment. In the PDP, the definition adopted for the SEA was that from OECD/DAC Guidelines for applying SEA’s as: “A range of analytical and participatory approaches that aim to integrate environmental considerations into policies, plans and programmes and evaluate the inter linkages with economic and social considerations”

Whereas an Environmental Impact is developed: “To ensure that planning decisions are made with full knowledge of a project’s likely significant environmental effects, and that any negative effects are prevented, reduced or offset, while positive effects are enhanced.”

Kato of all people should be aware that not because something comes from the sea means that it is a fish. An EIA informs design whereas an SEA informs strategy, and the design is developed after a strategy has been formulated.

Pipers-Pond-After-drainage-(5)

Pipers Pond after drainage

In 2010 Roger Clarke, DFID’s Programme Manager for Caribbean Territories and Regional Programmes wrote to Angela Greenaway (presently Board Member at MDC) on Piper’s outlining the requirements if any work should be taken in Piper’s Pond which reads: –“I am writing to express DFID’s concern over the lack of environmental management at the Little Bay site. Works have been undertaken which contravene Montserrat’s Forests, Wildlife and National Parks Act 2002 and Physical Planning Act 2002, and which fall far short of standard international practice.

I wrote … confirming an approach which had been agreed with relevant GoM officials for works at the entrance to Piper’s Pond. Our agreement was that The Department of Environment would assess the environmental impacts likely to result from the proposed works. They would then also draw up a management plan setting out how the work should be carried out to minimize the negative environmental impacts on the surrounding area. The Department of Environment (would) oversee the implementation of the drainage works.

We clearly identified the need for an Environmental Management Plan (EMP), which should set out the aims and objectives for environmental management, issues and areas to be considered, laws, regulations, and standards to be complied with, and management arrangements. A Contractor’s Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) is also required, which needs to set out how the Contractor will meet the requirements set out in the Government’s EMP. We also identified the need for specialist environmental monitoring to be put in place to oversee and report on the works and bring any issues to the attention of the relevant authority.

Piper-Pond-for-town-(5)Appropriate and thorough environmental assessment and management is designed to avoid delays and additional costs further down the line by identifying, mitigating, or managing environmental issues early on.

Kato and Ivan are again confronted with the question as to whether any of the above has been complied with for works in Piper’s Pond? Where is the Department of Environment, the Physical Planning Unit and the Planning and Development Authority in all of this as we have only heard from the MDC on this issue? Oh yes silent frustration of course.

Should works have progressed to the point it is now in the absence of an EIA? I think not because the MDC has at its disposal Mr. Franklin Greenaway who was Chief Physical Planner. He has a responsibility to advise his superiors that the works without an EIA violates section 18 (1) of the Physical Planning Act if aspects of the development are included in the 3rd Schedule. The 3rd Schedule includes land reclamation, dredging, marinas and port development. Piper’s Pond Development includes elements of dredging and land reclamation.

Pipers-Pond-becomes-Pipers-Lake-(22)Mr. Greenaway should have further advised that non compliance should ultimately and legally culminate in the issuance of a Notice of Compliance by the Planning and Development Authority(PDA) as per section 26 of the Physical Development Act to halt all works.

Works in Piper’s Pond does not only affect the swamp but the adjacent beach, fisheries, water quality etc. Surely for those of us who look to the sea for recreation and livelihood we have already noticed the change in water quality both in Carr’s Bay and Little Bay. Similarly, those of us who has years of training in Coastal Zone Management are intimately aware of the need for proper, not ad hoc/substandard, environmental assessment and management.

It is supposed that Kato had to react in the manner he did, i.e trying to cover his backside, because he realized, according to Roger Clarke, that “There are, financial risks as well as reputational risks of failing to comply with environmental regulations and standards.”

I am appealing to Montserrat and the powers that be that we don’t continue in silent frustration with this issue as the very essence of our survival is not solely dependent on development but sustainable development. The same PDP which was financed and referenced by DFID for the MDC highlights this in section 1 of the document which reads:

Piper-Pond-for-town-(1)Failure to respect and protect these areas will not only compromise the quality of life for future Montserratians, it will harm the very aspect of Montserrat that is central to its tourism product upon which economic recovery greatly depends“.

 

Let us learn from the lessons in Little Bay where the PDP also categorically stated “In 2011, Little Bay provides a case study in poor environmental management.” According to the PDP, we have already inflicted serious wounds on our environment within the Little Bay/Carr’s Bay areas let us not continue to do any more.

In summary, MDC through the April 11, 2014 news item , the intention could only have been to mislead Montserrat and its diaspora, because no Environmental Impact Assessment was ever undertaken for the works in Piper’s Pond. The current civil works being undertaken is being done illegally as without the EIA it contravenes section 18 (1) of the Physical Planning Act. The PDA, needs to do the right thing and ensure that all developments continue to comply not only with our laws but international best practice. Montserrat, we need to be courageously authentic and continuously raise awareness on the issues that has the potential to destroy the very fabric of our society and the things we stand for.

Finally in the words of TV Evangelists and Pastor of World Changers International Creflo Dollar “if we continue to do the things we do, we will always be where we have been“.