Categorized | Editorial

There must be serious questions of the need for further studies on sand mining

The Sand-Mining Issue has been controlling the minds and thoughts of many Montserratians, the Government and anyone connected to the property owners in the Beachettes Subdivision to include the owners of the Vue Pointe Hotel, even those who remember the economic values of the golf club and its paradise course.

The issue gave way briefly to a recall of the discussions surrounding the new Montserrat Constitution which, in order to begin to take effect require many bits of legislation to be enacted. The opposition, if we forget there are supposed to three members sitting on that side of the Legislative Council, two members have expressed dissatisfaction with the speed at which three of these Bills are being brought to the House, being referred to as simple, but necessary so that the Constitution can be effective from September 1, 2011. On Friday the sitting went well into the early evening, but it continues to appear that if only according to the rejecting members of the house, Montserrat may yet be sorry at the way the whole matter of the new Constitution have been conducted.

The sand mining issue. As one becomes more familiar with the matter and the several reports that have been conducted prior to now, it is difficult to understand why there is even a further discussion on the matter. It appears, but this is for the time being, that it there will be no sand mining beyond what is taking place presently.

The IMF when they visited agreed that there were economic prospects in sand mining, but cautioned that it needed proper structuring and management to be meaningful. “The current approach for the mining of volcanic sands, needs improvement,” the mission chief Hunter Munroe concluded.

The Chief Minister quoted a section from the current Sustainable Development Plan, which said the same thing. However, since CM Meade had said in February that the preferred option or the selected site for a jetty to facilitate the sand mining export would be in Foxes Bay, more reports following that which might have caused him to make or hint that decision should have forced him to forge ahead with his pronouncements.

The Oxford Property Management and later Halcrow Reports have managed to come up with criteria and studies that both agree show Foxes Bay as a preferred site for many reasons after weighing the issues or the factors. After looking at those two reports even with a cursory glance it is difficult to understand why the property owners in the area should have reasons to contend or even be suspicious.

Many times the arguments weigh against putting a jetty in Isle’s Bay and increased activity down the Belham.  One of the reports: “Many of the negative noise, traffic and visual impacts on local residents in the Belham Valley could be mitigated by restricting sand extraction and screening activities to higher up the Belham Valley at further distance and out of direct line-of-sight from residential properties.” 13 © Oxford Policy Management

In closing, following are a sample of excerpts from the reports: “Restricting extraction to higher up the valley would fit well with the Fox’s Bay export facility option from a residential and tourist perspective.”

“For example, under the Isles Bay option, higher production leads to higher local industry expenditure and government revenues but greater disturbance to communities, which may lead to an offsetting reduction in occupancy rates and tourism expenditure. A jetty in Fox’s Bay does have another advantage, however, in that it could be used to supply a potential geothermal project in the area, and also provide an evacuation route for people working on this project.

Halcrow was commissioned to do a pre-feasibility study on constructing an export jetty for sand products at Fox’s Bay, Isles Bay, and on the east coast.

The report (included as Annex E to this report) assessed the suitability and indicative costs of building a jetty in these different locations, taking into account transportation, maritime and coastal perspectives. On this basis, it concluded that Fox’s Bay was the preferred option. Whilst a jetty in Isles Bay benefits from being closer to the resource, a jetty in Fox’s Bay benefits from lower downtime due to lower sedimentation maintenance costs.”

“The analysis does, however, point to a trade-off between the economic impacts from increased mining activities (including increased government revenues) and the negative impact on residents and tourism expenditure.”

This last is reproduced just as the bold text appears in the report. There hardly needs another study.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

The Sand-Mining Issue has been controlling the minds and thoughts of many Montserratians, the Government and anyone connected to the property owners in the Beachettes Subdivision to include the owners of the Vue Pointe Hotel, even those who remember the economic values of the golf club and its paradise course.

The issue gave way briefly to a recall of the discussions surrounding the new Montserrat Constitution which, in order to begin to take effect require many bits of legislation to be enacted. The opposition, if we forget there are supposed to three members sitting on that side of the Legislative Council, two members have expressed dissatisfaction with the speed at which three of these Bills are being brought to the House, being referred to as simple, but necessary so that the Constitution can be effective from September 1, 2011. On Friday the sitting went well into the early evening, but it continues to appear that if only according to the rejecting members of the house, Montserrat may yet be sorry at the way the whole matter of the new Constitution have been conducted.

The sand mining issue. As one becomes more familiar with the matter and the several reports that have been conducted prior to now, it is difficult to understand why there is even a further discussion on the matter. It appears, but this is for the time being, that it there will be no sand mining beyond what is taking place presently.

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The IMF when they visited agreed that there were economic prospects in sand mining, but cautioned that it needed proper structuring and management to be meaningful. “The current approach for the mining of volcanic sands, needs improvement,” the mission chief Hunter Munroe concluded.

The Chief Minister quoted a section from the current Sustainable Development Plan, which said the same thing. However, since CM Meade had said in February that the preferred option or the selected site for a jetty to facilitate the sand mining export would be in Foxes Bay, more reports following that which might have caused him to make or hint that decision should have forced him to forge ahead with his pronouncements.

The Oxford Property Management and later Halcrow Reports have managed to come up with criteria and studies that both agree show Foxes Bay as a preferred site for many reasons after weighing the issues or the factors. After looking at those two reports even with a cursory glance it is difficult to understand why the property owners in the area should have reasons to contend or even be suspicious.

Many times the arguments weigh against putting a jetty in Isle’s Bay and increased activity down the Belham.  One of the reports: “Many of the negative noise, traffic and visual impacts on local residents in the Belham Valley could be mitigated by restricting sand extraction and screening activities to higher up the Belham Valley at further distance and out of direct line-of-sight from residential properties.” 13 © Oxford Policy Management

In closing, following are a sample of excerpts from the reports: “Restricting extraction to higher up the valley would fit well with the Fox’s Bay export facility option from a residential and tourist perspective.”

“For example, under the Isles Bay option, higher production leads to higher local industry expenditure and government revenues but greater disturbance to communities, which may lead to an offsetting reduction in occupancy rates and tourism expenditure. A jetty in Fox’s Bay does have another advantage, however, in that it could be used to supply a potential geothermal project in the area, and also provide an evacuation route for people working on this project.

Halcrow was commissioned to do a pre-feasibility study on constructing an export jetty for sand products at Fox’s Bay, Isles Bay, and on the east coast.

The report (included as Annex E to this report) assessed the suitability and indicative costs of building a jetty in these different locations, taking into account transportation, maritime and coastal perspectives. On this basis, it concluded that Fox’s Bay was the preferred option. Whilst a jetty in Isles Bay benefits from being closer to the resource, a jetty in Fox’s Bay benefits from lower downtime due to lower sedimentation maintenance costs.”

“The analysis does, however, point to a trade-off between the economic impacts from increased mining activities (including increased government revenues) and the negative impact on residents and tourism expenditure.”

This last is reproduced just as the bold text appears in the report. There hardly needs another study.