New Legislation To Protect BVI Environment Eyed

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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Ronald Smith-Berkeley announced that plans are being made to further protect the Territory’s environment and he stressed that dumping in the BVI waters should come to a complete halt.

During a recent government interview the Permanent Secretary disclosed that the Ministry of Natural Resources will be doubling efforts to protect the environment, which is the main asset of the BVI tourism product.

He said that considering the importance of the environment, residents should avoid doing things that would affect the environment such as the filling in salt ponds and other actions that can have catastrophic effects.

“People come here to enjoy our environment and we need people to understand that filling in the salt ponds, dumping of garbage in the ocean is not good for us. It might seem that way now, but it’s not good for us,” the Permanent Secretary stated.

Smith-Berkeley said that laws are in the pipeline to add teeth to the Government’s plans to safeguard the environment: “Hopefully by the end of this year we will have in place an environmental law. Right now it’s in the consultative phase with an external consultant/expert in environment. We are also looking at various policies – beach management policies, marine estate policies that gives us a better grasp of what’s happening in the environment and helps us in many ways to police – if you will – dumping of waste at sea. In that regard we are looking at pump out stations for the yachts and whatever else,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary said that the Ministry is looking at a five-year plan. “Five, six years down the road we hope to have an environment in general where anybody on the street would be so in tune and understand the importance of it; and when they see somebody littering the Ministry at that time will receive a call,” he pointed out.

Smith-Berkeley said these calls will report persons doing things to harm the environment such as the dumping of oil in ghuts.

He said that it is critical that this five-year plan is implemented as it will safeguard against some serious environmental issues that may arise. Nonetheless, the Permanent Secretary said that it is not the Ministry’s intention to legislate the issues away. “While we are trying to legislate some of this you can’t legislate everything…you just can’t,” the Permanent Secretary said.

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