The environmental impact that is likely to be caused by the Tyrell Bay Marina Project in Carriacou verses job creation from the project is the sticking point between the grouping of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and the Keith Mitchell Administration.
The marina project which became stalled during the 2008-13 period in government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Tillman Thomas was reactivated almost immediately after Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) was voted back into office two years ago.
The CSO has expressed grave concerns about the destruction of the mangrove, and the erosion of the livelihood of fishermen in Carriacou due to the marina project.
The issue came to the forefront again last week Tuesday when members of the Civil Society grouping refused to join other parties associated with the Committees of Social Partners to sign the Social Compact with government and the private sector.
As a means of enlightening the wider population about the environmental impact of the marina project on Carriacou, CSO through its radio programme on Chime FM which is called “Civil Society Speaks” relayed the presentations made by Dr. Lorna Innis and Prime Minister Mitchell during a public consultation that took place on June 21st 2014.
Dr. Innis, a consultant, was then attached to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment to help develop a zero draft national coastal zone policy for Grenada.
In her presentation, the consultant urged the developers of the marina project to be careful as all developments should be conducted in a manner that ineffectively minimises or eliminates the environmental and social impact of that development while maximising the economic benefit in an equitable manner for stakeholders.
She noted that Grenada had signed a protocol to implement sustainable development and has also decided to pursue the Green Economy path, adding that the principles of a green economy are the same as the principles of sustainable development.
Dr Innis also noted that as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) Grenada is known in the United Nations as having committed to both the green economy to sustainable development.
The Environmental scientist warned that while the project has new vulnerabilities to the island of Carriacou which may not be thought of today, but tomorrow “if Hurricane Ivan’s brother or sister comes through” those vulnerabilities will be manifested.
After examining some slides of the project, Dr. Innis spoke about being scared by one of the proposed investments in relation to sea defence.
“That scares me because an ill-designed or ill-conceived sea defence can make your coastal assets much worst off than they were before you started the project”, she said.
She questioned what is the sea defence, by asking if it is a sea wall, break water, and what is the length.
Dr. Innis indicated that these are some of the questions to be answered before construction takes place.
She recalled that when the project was first conceived, there was no Marine Protected Area (MPA) which now forms part of government’s policy.
She said it is important to ensure that the issues associated with MPA’s are also taken into account in this new environmental analysis.
In the case of PM Mitchell, he has labelled those who are alluding to the environmental impact which the Marina Project will have, as persons having a political agenda.
He said that in moving the country forward there is need for persons who are willing to take positions on issues that are important to the country and for them to remove their “partisan political” outlook.
He charged that too many times these people present themselves as persons of interest on a particular issue and are not inclined to push the benefit of the country but rather the benefit of the environment is their political interest.
“If you want to be part of an independent organisation and zeroing on the concerns related to the environment or the issue, you ought not to be seen or directly involved in partisan political activities because it will send the wrong message. Nothing you say will be seen as being unbiased, “he said.
Dr. Mitchell stressed that creating jobs and the environment go hand in hand.