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Jul 22, 2009

Who sits on NEAC?

Story PictureDevelopment projects that have any impact on the environment attract their own share of controversy. And this time the complaints are coming from the Placencia Citizens for Sustainable Development. And as much as it has to do with the Placencia Marina Ltd that can accommodate as much as two hundred boats , the group is railing with the Department of the Environment, which it claims does not want to disclose the names of the new members of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee. According to Mary Toy, Co Chair of the Placencia group, the D.O.E. is keeping the Committee in secret.

Mary Toy, Co-Chair, Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Dev
“Our issue is with the Department of Environment because at a meeting we were at last week on Thursday to discuss a proposal of a two hundred and ten slip marina on the northern Peninsula, D.O.E. was going through the E.I.A. process and they pulled out the slide of the members of the NEAC Committee which was a listing of the names of the position of who was supposed to be on NEAC or that person’s representative. So we asked for the actual names of the people that were on the committee and Mister Mai from D.O.E., told us that D.O.E. would not release the names because NEAC committee members did not want their names publicly known. At the same meeting the audience was being videotaped plus if you make a comment you have to give them your name first and who you represented. So NEAC, which is a public committee that is in charge of approving or denying any project that comes before D.O.E. that requires environmental approval, doesn’t want us to know who they are.”

“The two hundred and ten slip Marina that will hold boats of up to two hundred feet has been proposed by Placencia Marina Ltd. who the principals are, we believe, the same as those that own the Placencia Hotel and Resort, Copal Beach and Rondeveau Caye. This project is in about a mile and a half distance of the Aero Macal Marina which has been approved for four hundred boats of up to hundred feet in length. If NEAC approve the new marina, that will mean there will be boat slips for six hundred and ten boats on the Northern end of the Placencia Peninsula. That’s a lot of slips and we do not think that the Peninsula and the sites along the peninsula like Laughing Bird Caye, Gladden Spit, the Silk Cayes, can sustainably accommodate six hundred and ten boats with an average of, lets be very conservative three people per boat.”

When we checked on the composition of the Commission, we found nothing sinister. According to the 2007 amendment to the Environmental Impact Assessment, the NEAC is headed by C.E.O.s of government departments or their nominees. The Committee includes the Chief Environmental Officer, the Lands Commissioner, the Director of Health Services; the Chief Forest Officer; the Fisheries Administrator; the chief meteorologist; the director of petroleum and geology and GOB’s chief engineer. Also serving on the committee are three experts nominated by the D.O.E., a representative from a tertiary level institution in Belize; two N.G.O.s or representatives from the private sector and one person named by the Minister.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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