Earlier this week an actual public consultation session was held with villagers in Seine Bight Village. Residents became upset after they notice that construction had begun for a gas station in the middle of the village. Some residents complained that the project poses a hazard to their lives. Many complained that the chairman failed to conduct proper consultations from village. This week Senior Environmental Officer Anthony Mai accompanied by other officials were in Seine Bight to consult with the project.
Anthony Mai, Senior Environmental Officer, DOE: “We had a very fruitful discussion about the project at least from the Department of Environment standpoint. We had representation from the fire department and also in this case the investor and the company that is actually installing the service station. Where the residents basically raised some very good concerns. I think one of the bigger issue from this is the fact that consultation needed to have been broadened and should have been done from an earlier stage but for that again really and truly the department needs to look at our policy in terms of public consultation, maybe it is that we need to begin to require public involvement in these what we refer to as light industries. Again but a policy needs to be made in relation to that. Also there’s the concern with regard to the location, the siting of the services station itself. The residents are saying that they don’t oppose the construction of the service station they are opposing the location of the service station and they cited various reasons as to why that will be an issue for them. So we came, we clarified the process in terms of environmental clearance, we clarified some of the environmental issues, the fire personnel clarified some of the safety issues the public had concerns about and again overall it was a very good meeting, it was a very cordial discussion, the village council was very helpful in terms of moderating the discussion etc so we are glad to be here.”
Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: So hearing the concerns of the residents what are some of the requirements that was given that was given to you guys so that these guys got the go ahead to put the gas station where it’s at.
Anthony Mai, Senior Environmental Officer, DOE: “Again the village council basically asked what could be done in terms of moving forward with regards to their concern and complaint. The biggest concern is that the villagers don’t want the service station at that particular location. They mentioned to me that they will be signing a petition of about two hundred names and they will be submitting that to the Department of Environment for us to maybe just look at the public concern mostly and look at the possibility if there is any of issuing some form of cessation order for the construction of this service station.”