NIA Builds Pier at Oualie without an Approved EIA – Is this Illegal?

By: Staff Reporter

During his press conference of Monday June 25, 2018, Premier, Hon. Mark Brantley indicated to the country that construction work, being undertaken by the NIA was continuing on the pier at Oualie.

The media house contacted the Department of Physical Planning on the same day and spoke to Director of Physical Planning Mr. Joel Williams with a view of obtaining for perusal, the approved Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), for that pier. Mr. Williams indicated that there were no such approvals at the Department. When Williams was asked how was work allowed to commence without an approved EIA, he indicated that his Department “was dealing with it.”

This media house visited the site this morning, Tuesday, June 26, 2018. The visit was to assess the status of work at the site, referred to by Premier Brantley. This reporter observed piles already driven into the Sea Bed, and evidence of excavation work on the beach.

Among those present on the site during the time of visit were, Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Minister in the NIA, Mr. Stephen Hector, Chief of Security NASPA, and Ms. Camille Kelly. This reporter is uncertain about the official capacity of Ms. Kelly.

However, when the question was posed why was the pier being built without an approved EIA, as required by law, Ms. Kelly responded, “Don’t worry, EIA is coming.” From her response, it was evident that Ms. Kelly was representing the NIA.

The Director of Physical Planning, Mr. Williams was again contacted by this media house on Tuesday June 26, 2018 and again asked how work was allowed to continue without an approved EIA. He again indicated that his Department “was dealing with it”. When asked to clarify what was meant by “dealing with it”, he offered no explanations.

This stance of the NIA, to commence work or any major project without an approved EIA clearly contradicts the Nevis Physical Planning and Development Control Ordinance Chapter 6.09 (N) section 20 (2) which requires an approved EIA before any work on such projects may commence.

With the work on the pier already started, and with Premier Brantley lauding the work in his most recent press conference, it is clear that the Department of Physical Planning is allowing the NIA to operate outside of the law.

It further appears that the Department of Physical Planning continues to set a danger trend where the NIA operates outside of the law, while citizens are held to the very ordinance which the NIA is allowed to skirt. This is evident with the three storey building being built in Charlestown, where no EIA was presented to the general public, before the NIA commenced construction.

The guiding Ordinance does not give the NIA the right to operate differently to other builders.

An Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is necessary to determine whether a proposed project will have a positive or negative impact on the environs in which the projected is being erected. These include, in this case the:

  1. i) Safety of swimmers
  2. ii) Safety of road users in relation to vehicular congestion especially with the sharp bend in the road coming from Charlestown; and
  • iii) Noise abatement; and property value as it relates to residents in the area.

In this instance, concerns were raised specifically about how this pier would affect the safety of swimmers on one of the most popular beaches on the island.

An approved EIA would answer all of these questions.

This media house will continue to monitor the work on the pier and the status of the EIA.

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