As we have reported, at the start of the month, Waterloo Investment Holdings Limited resubmitted its EIA to the Department of the Environment (DOE) for reconsideration. The move sparked much controversy from the environmental community which fired off a letter to the Prime Minister demanding GOB to put a pause on all active EIAs. The group claimed that Waterloo’s resubmission should not have been allowed based on the policies and regulations of the DOE. Minister of Sustainable Development, Orlando Habet, stated; however, that the law surrounding the resubmission of EIAs is open for interpretation.
Orlando Habet. Minister of Sustainable Development: “The law itself, the way it is written is not clear. So I think that’s one step that we have to look at. I mentioned that two or three revisions have to be done to the EIA process and maybe a further one has to be done to have some clarifications. When we consulted the attorneys, it was something new to me that you find out that the law is silent on a certain matter and then I started to hear it from senior attorneys and they say that the law is silent on this matter. So what it does, I think on Article 23 of the 2003 piece of the legislation is the original piece of the legislation. It tells you that they have the opportunity to resubmit and then on the 2007 even though it tells you that from the 2003 deviation where they used to tell you that the minister has the final say if the ECP is denied then the minister has the final say in saying yes or no. Now in 2007 that was revised saying that the minister has to convene a tribunal and then the tribunal has the final say. But, it doesn’t tell you anything after and it doesn’t tell you anything before on when you can resubmit so in the interpretation of the law, we’ve decided that based on consultation with legal minds that even when you take something to court that the court, either the judge or the magistrate, would lean on allowing something to be resolved outside of the court f there is a possibility.”
Minister Habet further explained that the community’s demand for GOB to put a pause on all active EIAs is not realistic. He added that Waterloo’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was included in its resubmission of its EIA as well.
Orlando Habet. Minister of Sustainable Development: “The EIA regulations have been there and so when they submitted the application this was already in process. The ESIA, the Environmental Social Impact Assessment is part of that, just that what they’re trying to do is categorise them, different schedules. You can have one that is, whether it’s in size of mega projects, large projects, and medium sized projects, but also on the potential impact on the environment or on the social side or whether or not it’s not going to bring any kind of economic or prosperity in terms of job creation and funding to the country then you categorise them as such and so then you look at that. Remember that the Department of Environment, really in true nature, is to look at the environmental impact but because you can’t do one without the other, so we’re tying to see now how you can bring other groups, maybe it’s from the Ministry of Human Development that will look at the social side and participation from there and maybe from the community and private sector or an NGO or the business community to also participate in the social side, if you have a professional who is trained in that area to look at it from that standpoint. But, you’d have to look at, I wouldn’t be able to say for certain which one came first but I am certain that the regulations are there for 2003, 2007, and the latest amendment was 2020. There’s none after 2020.”