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Friday 17 August 2018
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Tobago fishermen: No EMA approval for Studley Park jetty project

KAREECE NELSON

STUDLEY Park fisherfolk are awaiting a date for a consultation by the Studley Park Enterprise Limited (SPEL) on why no certificate of environmental clearance (CEC) has been obtained from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) for “renovation works” at the Barbados Bay jetty to turn it into a loading pier for exports from the quarry.

The fishermen also want to know why no impact assessment was done given that “renovation works” would require piling (which involves tying/pounding metal sheets or materials into the sea to create a support structure) and dredging of the area.

They note that the jetty area earmarked for renovation contains sensitive fringe reefs which act as a breeding ground for spawning fish. The fisherfolk’s request for clarification came at last Tuesday’s public consultation hosted by SPEL to present technical plans and outline of the work to be done on the jetty.

SPEL’s manager, Dexter East, told the fishermen that SPEL has no intention of breaching any policy, but that no EMA certification was necessary, and that at this time, no impact assessment has been done or was arranged to be done.

East said a “grandfather clause’ – which relates to sites that were developed prior to the establishment of the EMA - had kicked in for the Barbados Bay jetty project since it has been classified as renovations of an existing structure.

The public consultation held at the jetty last Tuesday was attended by Studley Park residents, fisherfolk, businessmen, and representatives of the Trinidad contractor hired for the project, RBJ Building and Civil Engineering Contractors Ltd.

In an interview with Newsday, Miguel Donawah, general manager of RJB Building and Civil Engineering Contractors Ltd, said the scope of works included repair of the road to the jetty, installation of a new ramp to accommodate barges coming in and leaving, and construction of a vinyl wall to protect the barges and the jetty’s road from the ocean.

“The vinyl will also assist in the reduction of noise pollution as a sliding motion instead of banging will occur when barges come into contact with the jetty and the jetty wall,” he said, adding that steel sheet piles would be used, and that navigation lights would also be installed at the site.

Asked about the lack of an impact assessment and no CEC from the EMA for the project, SPEL’s chairman Allan Richards told Newsday Tobago after the consultation that “due to some technical issues …the jetty was put down before the EMA came into being, so the grandfather clause does not necessarily necessitate for the repair works.”

“By the same token, we would do whatever is necessary statutorily because we do not intend to breach the law in any way. We will try to do whatever is necessary.

“If an Environmental Management Agency’s certificate of environmental clearance is required, we will make an application and abide by whatever is required,” he said.

Richards claimed that the work on the jetty would not affect the fishermen who sell at the roadside as the project is south of the area.

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