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Secret Environmental Committee #382673
07/20/09 01:20 PM
07/20/09 01:20 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,531
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Dated 17th June – for immediate release

Belize’s Secret Environmental Committee

A shock announcement by Mr. Anthony Mai of the Department of the Environment that the names of members of the National Environment Advisory Committee (NEAC) are secret has left concerned citizens in Seine Bight, Maya Beach and Placencia reeling.

NEAC is the committee legally charged with giving clearance for all development projects requiring environmental review, such as shrimp farms, resorts, World Heritage site projects, dams, free zones and many other major undertakings that closely affect the lives of Belizeans.

Mr. Mai made the announcement last week at a public meeting held by DOE to discuss a proposal for approval to build a second huge marina on the Peninsula.

Says Co-Chair of the Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development, Vincent Lopez, “We were horrified when we learnt that the names of NEAC members are secret. People at the public meeting last week repeatedly asked for the identities of the committee members, but were told by Mr. Mai that NEAC members did not wish their names to be known.”

“We, on the other hand, were required to give our names before speaking at the meeting, and we were also videoed. This was an open public meeting that anyone could attend. We are not afraid or ashamed of our identities, but this insistence on recording a public meeting certainly smacks of the police state. We were not told in advance that the meeting would be recorded or why, and some people at the meeting felt it was intended to intimidate them.”

Continues Mr. Lopez, “We are outraged at this situation. These people on NEAC are making decisions that affect the lives and livelihoods of all the people of Belize, and we aren’t even allowed to know who they are. What possible reason could there be for this kind of secrecy by a PUBLIC committee?”

“Our current government promised us that government activities would be transparent. I can’t think of any issue closer to the Belizean heart and soul than the very fate of this land – and it’s being decided by a bunch of faceless mystery men. I am sure that Prime Minister Barrow will want to give this his immediate attention, and allow fresh air to blow through the workings of this critically important environmental committee, which has so much power over all of our lives.”

Recent projects that have raised questions in the minds of many Belizeans on the Placencia Peninsula include the ongoing construction of an international airport on the Peninsula, mangrove clearance at World Heritage sites, permission for an airstrip at Harvest Caye which will destroy an important manatee feeding site, large scale dredging in the Placencia Lagoon, the approval of a large resort on False Caye (an important mangrove, juvenile fish and coral area off the Peninsula) and numerous other deeply worrying decisions.

Concludes Mr. Lopez, “I believe that we as Belizeans have an absolute right to know who the people are who are making these staggeringly important decisions which will impact our country for generations to come. What can possibly be the motive for keeping these names secret? Our organisation and others will be pressing the government for a statement and an immediate change of policy in this matter.”


For further information, contact Mary Toy, Co-Chair, Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development, 610-4718

Live and let live
Re: Secret Environmental Committee [Re: Short] #382674
07/20/09 02:15 PM
07/20/09 02:15 PM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 1,925
papashine Offline
papashine  Offline
Surprise, surprise..... sick

Reality..What a concept!
Re: Secret Environmental Committee [Re: papashine] #382675
07/22/09 11:50 PM
07/22/09 11:50 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,531
Short Offline OP
Short  Offline OP
Who sits on NEAC?

[Linked Image] Development 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.

Live and let live

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