Key Agencies in Nevis Review Environmental Impact Assessment Report

By Abisola Abiola (Leewards Times - 25 July 2010)

A capacity building workshop that would help key agencies in Nevis review Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)reports was organised on
Thursday, July 15th by the Department of Physical Planning at the Llewellyn Newton Disaster Management Facility, Long Point.

The workshop aims to assist these agencies in ensuring that the right sorts of significant impacts are identified and that the right sort of mitigation
measures to minimize the effect of these impacts are put in place.

According to Floyd Homer, Workshop Facilitator, the environmental impact assessment reports are required under the Nevis Development Control
Act. He noted that if people are adequately trained in doing a proper and thorough review of reports then it helps safe guard the natural resources
and livelihood aspect of the people of Nevis.

He explained that the idea for the training emerged in the mid 1990’s that the first such training was conducted in St. Kitts and in Nevis in 1998.
“Where we visited a site where there was potential marina but the project never went forward. And to see some more than 15years later we are doing
a project of the same kind.” He pointed out that the major weaknesses in the English speaking Caribbean is that people outside of government
agencies lacks the capacity to conduct a thorough review as the Planning Departments will want.

“Also colleagues and other government agencies that have not been exposed to the process also could not have given as in depth a response as a
Planning Department will have desired.  We hope that this two days introductory course on the review of the EIA will help give people a better
understanding of the process and the manner in which a review ought to be conducted,” he said.

At the end of the training sessions, participants are expected to better recognise the purpose and role of an EIA in the decision making process as
well as understand the scoping process and how it is applied. “Understand and know the options of estimating environmental and social impacts and
to get a sense of how the EI could be formatted to make it easier for review purposes,” he concluded.

Director Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Environment, Angela Walters-Delpeche during her introductory speech said that the EIA is a very
important planning tool in Nevis’ EIA process and it could also be considered as a handbook for developers to know how feasible their project is and
to outline mitigative measures to implement in unlikely events. She noted that they have had some deficiencies in past EIA’s produced, “in terms of
natural hazard impacts, economic, social and feasibility of the projects. One of the important components of an EIA is the public participation, we are
encouraging consultants to involve the general public more and we are also encouraging general public to be part of the process,” she said.

She also noted that there’s a misconception that planning hinders progress especially as it relates to project on the island of Nevis, she stated that
this is not so. “What we at Planning are trying to do is to promote a sustainable Nevis to ensure that developments does not affect our environment or
depict our natural resources in such a way that it prevents our future generations from enjoying what we do today. The decisions that we make cuts
across various sectors including Health, Tourism, Economic and Planning.”

She therefore noted that the department’s decision will not please all and it’s their task to balance what the developers want and what is best for the
island. She told persons present of the need to be more objective in their thinking, planning and decision making as it relates to the development of
Nevis.

She hopes that the two-day workshop can assist the Department of Physical Planning in its decision making process and that the general public will
understand the need and importance of an environmental and impact assessment. “Trusting that the benefits far out way the cost and potentially
negative impacts of the development of the proposal,” she said.

EIA is a systematic process to identify, predict and evaluate the environmental effects of proposed actions and projects. This process is applied prior
to major decisions and commitments being made.  Social, cultural and health effects are considered as an integral part of EIA.  The purpose of the
EIA is to provide information for decision-making on the environmental consequences of proposed actions and to promote environmentally sound and
sustainable development through the identification of appropriate enhancement and mitigation measures.
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