Categorized | Opinions

Where is the EIA – the valley looks like a moonscape!

By The Man from Garibaldi Hill

Jus Wonderin’ when the Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) for sandmining in the lower Belham Valley and commissioned by the GOM will be made public.

The EIA fella left island after only 5 weeks of his study which was projected to last 12 weeks.  His report was submitted to the GOM at the sometime before or early October and has been in their hands for some seven weeks now – and not a word has been spoken.  A phone call to Dept. of Environment, Physical Planning, elicited the following response: “I am not authorised to talk to you regarding sandmining matters.” !

Rumours persist that, despite pressure on the EIA fella to favour the sandmining case, the study was concerned that the proposed industrial development in an area of such natural beauty was one of the worst cases of environmental abuse that had been encountered in 35 years of case studies.

If that is indeed the conclusion of the EIA, then I don’t suppose we’ll hear more of it from the GOM.

You only have to look at the effect that the sandmining has had on the upper reaches of the Belham Valley and any sane person would say “No way should this take place in the Lower Belham.”

The valley looks like a moonscape – craters everywhere, large and ugly piles of rocks and boulders scattered around, and – to top it all – what looks like a new Volcano is growing on Happy Hill. This illustrates that mining is a messy, dirty and environmentally unfriendly and destructive business. It has always been so.

It is a business that has to be strictly regulated and controlled,

A business that has to be zoned and removed from residential areas.

A business that has to be penalised for damage caused to the country’s infrastructure,

A business that has to factor in reparation for the damage it causes to the environment.

That the GOM has failed to regulate and control, fine and hold responsible the abuses perpetrated by the sand miners is illustrated by the following instances.

A year ago the GOM was informed that Selsi Ltd had removed its plant from the Belham Valley floor due to a lahar that had wiped out its site.  Selsi then stockpiled sand and stored and operated its machinery 50 yards from the entrance to Isles Bay Plantation – a premier residential development in the Belham Valley.  One year on the Selsi plant is still there, a blot on the residential landscape, and GOM is either powerless or unwilling to do any thing about it.

Last month (October) a trucking business moved into the old Selsi site on the valley floor opposite the Brettons’ house which is at the bottom of Garibaldi Hill and started mining, grading and trucking material seven days a week.  Seven days a week!  All day Sunday – working!  At the same time another mining business was also running its conveyor belt on Sunday.  The combined noise levels are unacceptable on a weekday let alone a Sunday.  They were just a fraction of the noise levels one would experience in the Lower Belham if all the miners worked together to fill barges at Isles Bay.

The GOM turns a deaf ear (sic) to the residents’ entreaties regarding this noise abuse even when it occurs as it frequently has at unsocial hours. They say thanks for the Heads Up and then bury their heads in the sand!

Not only it looks like the GOM does turn a deaf ear, it appears also turns a blind eye.

The GOM is responsible for road maintenance and yet no action is taken to make the sand miners pay for the damage they cause to the country’s residential roads.  Happy Hill is no longer a road.  The overladen 20-tonne trucks have seen to that.  The Belham Valley crossing, which is sand on rock and not a public road, has a better surface than Unhappy Hill!

Will Shamrock Mining pay for the reparation of Happy Hill?  After all, they are the ones making the money.  I call upon them and others to voluntarily repair the damage their trucks have caused.

Roads on Montserrat have become an endangered species because they were not designed for industrial traffic in the first place and secondly the GOM has not managed their usage.

Roads that have gone the way of the Dodo include Trants, destroyed by truckers, Happy Hill destroyed by sand miners, Beach Road at Isles Bay – long gone to beach sand miners.  Roads on the endangered list include Dr Woods and Salem’s main street.  And will the A1 ever receive its black top if the trucks continue to roll the length and breadth of the island?

The Man from Garibaldi Hill says:
“People of Montserrat, you are not being served by the government in these environmental abuses because the sand miners call the tune, the GOM dances badly and the residents wail in despair.”

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By The Man from Garibaldi Hill

Jus Wonderin’ when the Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) for sandmining in the lower Belham Valley and commissioned by the GOM will be made public.

The EIA fella left island after only 5 weeks of his study which was projected to last 12 weeks.  His report was submitted to the GOM at the sometime before or early October and has been in their hands for some seven weeks now – and not a word has been spoken.  A phone call to Dept. of Environment, Physical Planning, elicited the following response: “I am not authorised to talk to you regarding sandmining matters.” !

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Rumours persist that, despite pressure on the EIA fella to favour the sandmining case, the study was concerned that the proposed industrial development in an area of such natural beauty was one of the worst cases of environmental abuse that had been encountered in 35 years of case studies.

If that is indeed the conclusion of the EIA, then I don’t suppose we’ll hear more of it from the GOM.

You only have to look at the effect that the sandmining has had on the upper reaches of the Belham Valley and any sane person would say “No way should this take place in the Lower Belham.”

The valley looks like a moonscape – craters everywhere, large and ugly piles of rocks and boulders scattered around, and – to top it all – what looks like a new Volcano is growing on Happy Hill. This illustrates that mining is a messy, dirty and environmentally unfriendly and destructive business. It has always been so.

It is a business that has to be strictly regulated and controlled,

A business that has to be zoned and removed from residential areas.

A business that has to be penalised for damage caused to the country’s infrastructure,

A business that has to factor in reparation for the damage it causes to the environment.

That the GOM has failed to regulate and control, fine and hold responsible the abuses perpetrated by the sand miners is illustrated by the following instances.

A year ago the GOM was informed that Selsi Ltd had removed its plant from the Belham Valley floor due to a lahar that had wiped out its site.  Selsi then stockpiled sand and stored and operated its machinery 50 yards from the entrance to Isles Bay Plantation – a premier residential development in the Belham Valley.  One year on the Selsi plant is still there, a blot on the residential landscape, and GOM is either powerless or unwilling to do any thing about it.

Last month (October) a trucking business moved into the old Selsi site on the valley floor opposite the Brettons’ house which is at the bottom of Garibaldi Hill and started mining, grading and trucking material seven days a week.  Seven days a week!  All day Sunday – working!  At the same time another mining business was also running its conveyor belt on Sunday.  The combined noise levels are unacceptable on a weekday let alone a Sunday.  They were just a fraction of the noise levels one would experience in the Lower Belham if all the miners worked together to fill barges at Isles Bay.

The GOM turns a deaf ear (sic) to the residents’ entreaties regarding this noise abuse even when it occurs as it frequently has at unsocial hours. They say thanks for the Heads Up and then bury their heads in the sand!

Not only it looks like the GOM does turn a deaf ear, it appears also turns a blind eye.

The GOM is responsible for road maintenance and yet no action is taken to make the sand miners pay for the damage they cause to the country’s residential roads.  Happy Hill is no longer a road.  The overladen 20-tonne trucks have seen to that.  The Belham Valley crossing, which is sand on rock and not a public road, has a better surface than Unhappy Hill!

Will Shamrock Mining pay for the reparation of Happy Hill?  After all, they are the ones making the money.  I call upon them and others to voluntarily repair the damage their trucks have caused.

Roads on Montserrat have become an endangered species because they were not designed for industrial traffic in the first place and secondly the GOM has not managed their usage.

Roads that have gone the way of the Dodo include Trants, destroyed by truckers, Happy Hill destroyed by sand miners, Beach Road at Isles Bay – long gone to beach sand miners.  Roads on the endangered list include Dr Woods and Salem’s main street.  And will the A1 ever receive its black top if the trucks continue to roll the length and breadth of the island?

The Man from Garibaldi Hill says:
“People of Montserrat, you are not being served by the government in these environmental abuses because the sand miners call the tune, the GOM dances badly and the residents wail in despair.”