Residents group says EIA report flawed

Stabroek News
November 7, 2002

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The Ogle Residents Group says the Environmental Impact Assessment Report into the proposed Ogle aerodrome expansion makes promises in support of the project instead of providing an unbiased and scientific environmental evaluation.

The group is also upset that it was not formally notified of the public hearing held last Thursday at the Ogle Community Centre. In a letter to the Chairman of the Environmental Impact Assessment Board of the Environmental Protection Agency, David Singh, the group reiterated its objection to the expansion project and stressed that the notices from the EPA "were generally inadequate and escaped the attention of many members and other residents."

It also indicated that it intends to submit a full analysis of its views on the project and that many issues raised by the group were not addressed in the report. These concerns include noise, drainage and treatment of hazardous waste.

The group believes the drainage proposal for the airport ignores the under-capacity of the GUYSUCO drainage system, and blockage of a primary GUYSUCO drainage canal could result. According to the letter, GUYSUCO has given no written authorisation for the use of its facilities. The group said it has discussed these matters with the Director of the EPA, Bal Parsaud, who had proposed a visit to the site by EPA personnel prior to Thursday's meeting to ascertain the accuracy of the group's contention. To this Parsaud had agreed, but the group says this promise was not kept.

Members of the Ogle Group say they will respond to the EIA report and are still looking forward to the promised visit by the EPA. Referring to published reports on complaints raised by members of the public at the hearing, ORG said it was astonished that without the EPA's approval of the EIA for the project, that the Central Housing and Planning Authority appears to have usurped the authority of the EPA and was moving ahead to make arrangements for the relocation of people living in the path of the proposed expansion.

At the recent public hearing on the EIA, the EPA expressed some dissatisfaction over aspects of the EIA, which was done by Technical Publishing Advisory Services. The agency is of the opinion that construction management has not been significantly addressed and that mitigation measures are mostly for impacts occurring in the operation stage of the completed project. It is felt that construction should have been addressed immediately since this will represent the first major stage of the project, with potential environmental impacts.

The timelines given for the implementation of mitigation measures were also considered weak by the EPA. In addition, the programme to monitor impacts due to the project was found to be incomplete. It was agreed between the EIA consultants, the developers and the EPA that there will be adjustments to the Environmental Management Plan. Additional information regarding the adjustments was submitted on October 30.

The EPA recommended that the EIA be adjusted accordingly, and once the EPA is satisfied that there is compliance with Section 11 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1996, the environmental authorisation for the Ogle Airport Expansion Project, with certain terms and conditions attached, would be issued.

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