The Development Control Authority (DCA) has issued a Stop Order to a landowner who has been clearing land for the purpose of building an access road to his property through the Wallings Nature Reserve.
The Chief Town and Country Planner, Frederick Southwell said that the earthwork was halted after a private land owner, Christopher Joseph, attempted to proceed with the unauthorised development of the area.
Irrespective of the fact that the lands are owned by Joseph, approval must be sought from the DCA before any development can take place, the DCA boss said, because “there is a community down slope from there and it is likely that the cutting of the land to create a road, if not done properly could create significant erosion and flooding issues”.
The order was issued to Joseph on January 2nd after inspectors visited the site and noted the damage being done to the land.
Executive Director of Wallings Nature Reserve, Refeka Atwood told OBSERVER media that, “the area has been protected from the 1900s … so the landowners are aware that the development of any land out here in a mature forest had to get authorisation”.
Atwood sought to make it clear to landowners in the area that, “it’s your land. We not gonna stop you from developing it. However, you need to adhere to the law that from the 1900s it was approved by Cabinet that the last remaining mature forest is a protected area and we need to protect it”.
The Wallings Nature Reserve is one of a few forested areas in Antigua and Barbuda which receives significant amounts of rainfall on a yearly basis.
Southwell is therefore advising all owners of land in the area to consult with the Chief Forestry Officer and the Director of Agriculture before any plans for development are put into action within the Wallings Nature Reserve.