Minister Habet Responds to Environmental Concerns Over Portico Enterprises Project

Minister Habet Responds to Environmental Concerns Over Portico Enterprises Project

Tonight, the Minister of Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Orlando Habet, says the environmental experts are wrong when it comes to the number of mangroves that will be cleared by Portico Enterprises. Last week, the WWF’s country representative, Nadia Bood, stated that the project would destroy almost one thousand acres of pristine mangrove ecosystems. However, Habet explained today that the information is not accurate. He says while the project may have an impact on the environment, there needs to be a balance between protecting the environment and economic development.

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management: “I think it’s 45 acres in the ECP and I think another about 65 acres in the dewatering site going out onto the highway. But I may be wrong, but that is the from what I’ve read on the ECP that is what’s there. Somebody had posed a question earlier on whether or not we have this restoration program and we will restore so many thousand acres of mangrove but oh that one project we will destroy 20%, that is not true. So it’s gonna be a lot less than that because the restoration for mangroves out of the 130,000 hectares of restoration under the landscape program 8,000 acres of mangrove. So if you’re going to take down about 100, 120 acres then that’s very, very small. But any amount of mangrove that is torn down is going to damage the environment in some way or the other. What we have to look at is really striking that balance of what we want for our development. I’m in the Ministry of Sustainable Development environment is under my ministry. I’m an agriculturalist and I can consider myself an environmentalist but I also know that I have to eat and my children have to go to school and the economy has to grow. So we have to really look at that balance of where we’ll have the least effect on the environment, but also be able to have a positive impact on the social side which is the human side, and also on the financial side, because the economy is very important for us. The government has to pay for schools, it has to pay for the police, it has to pay for teachers, we have to provide for the electricity in all the posts and the light that we have around the country, for water systems. So we have to look at it from all standpoints, but certainly the least damage that’s possible is what we want. The thing with the EIA process is that when they do the study of an EIA request it doesn’t mean that there will not be effect to the environment. What the Department of Environment does is to look at areas where there can be some mitigation of that impact. So by providing that information to the developer, then the developer would have to come back if at first it is denied to come back with another EIA showing that because they have heeded to the advice they can come back with a different process.”

Habet also explained that at this point there is no certainty that the project will be approved. 

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management:  “It hasn’t been discussed as yet. As far as I know, and the Prime Minister had mentioned, at least from the agreement that was signed before that has been taken down. So they’re looking at what can be done to minimize the impact and whether or not it will be approved. I don’t know as yet.”

Bood also stated that she does not support the project and added that the WFF has not endorsed the project. 

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