People interested in buying and developing land in Belize are subject to many regulations. For this reason, the San Pedro Sun is printing an overview of the checklist one might consider when deciding to develop. The Department of the Environment (DOE) requests all public and private agencies, corporations and individual persons to consider the environmental impacts of a proposed project before making decisions. An environmental checklist asks you to describe some basic information about your proposal. The DOE will use this checklist to determine whether the environmental impacts of your proposal are significant, requiring preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.
The first part deals with Background including: name of the proposed project and applicant; address, phone number, contact person; proposed time schedule (including phasing, if applicable) and future additions, expansion, or activity related to or connected with the proposal. It asks you to list any environmental information you know about that has been prepared, or will be prepared, directly related to this proposal; and whether applications are pending for governmental approvals of other proposals directly affecting the project and/or land area covered by your proposal. It asks for a brief, complete description of your proposal, the size of the project and site. You are to list any governmental approvals or permits that will be needed for your proposal, if known, and the precise location of the proposal. If it is a large area, you need to provide the range or boundaries of the site(s). Include the legal description, site plan, vicinity map and topographic map, if reasonably available. While you should submit any plans required by the agency, you are not required to duplicate maps or detailed plans.
Environmental Elements are the next section of the checklist. Here are the subjects and information needed. Earth - general description of the site, for example: flat, rolling, hilly, steep slopes, mountains, etc.; note the steepest slopes (approximate percent slope) and general types of soils found on the site, for example: clay, sand, gravel, peat, mulch. If you know the classification of agricultural soils, specify them and note any prime farmland. You are asked if there are surface indications or a history of unstable soils in the immediate vicinity and to describe the purpose, type, and approximate quantities of any filling or grading proposed, as well as the source of fill and whether erosion could occur as a result of clearing, construction or use. You need to provide a cross-sectional diagram of the soil profile and proposed measures to reduce or control erosion or other impacts to the earth, if any.
The next element deals with Air and what type of emissions would result, (i.e. dust, automobile, odors, industrial, wood smoke) during construction and when the project is completed. You are asked if there are any off-shore sources of emissions or odor that may affect your proposal and proposed measures to reduce or control emissions or other impacts to the air, if any.
In regards to Water they need to know type and names of any surface water body on or in the immediate vicinity of the site including year-round and seasonal streams, saltwater, lakes, ponds, wetlands and what stream or river or body of water it flows into. You are asked if the project requires any work over, in or adjacent to (within 200 feet) the described waters, and to estimate the amount of fill and dredge material that would be placed in or removed from surface water or wetlands and indicate the area of the site that would be affected as well as the source of fill material. They further need to know if the proposal requires surface water withdrawals or diversions; the general description, purpose, and approximate quantities if known and if it lies within a 10-year flood plain. You are to describe, if any, the type of waste and anticipated volume of any discharges of waste materials to surface waters. In regards to ground water the checklist asks if it will be withdrawn or if discharged to groundwater, the general description, purpose, and approximate quantities, if known. You are asked to describe the waste material that will be discharged into the ground from septic tanks or other sources, if any, for example: domestic sewage; industrial; or that containing chemicals. You must describe the general size, the number of such systems, the number of houses to be served or the number of animal or humans the system(s) are expected to serve. The source of runoff (including storm water) is questioned, method of collection, disposal, quantities (if known), where it will flow (into other waters) and if so, to describe. You are to generally describe waste materials to enter ground or surface water and proposed measures to reduce or control surface, ground, and runoff water impacts.
The next subject is Plants and will be covered in part two.