By Machela Osagboro
Marine Biologist, John Mussington has made a call for the Development Control Authority (DCA) to become independent of the government so that it may operate on an unbiased level to enable better environment protection in Antigua and Barbuda.
While making the suggestion on OBSERVER Radio’s Big Issues programme last Sunday, Mussington said that he wanted the government to “allow the DCA to be independent and to do its work to uphold the Physical Planning Act which is in essence what protects us and protects the environment in this nation”.
The marine biologist also stated that the projects slated for development in Barbuda are all on an area of the land which has bad structural integrity and are in a zone which is particularly prone to ravages from storms. He added that these areas sit on a third of the land that will become wetlands in the very near future.
According to Mussington and other environmentalists, to include Martin Dudley – who was another guest on the weekly programme — this is where the DCA’s role is central in the protection of the land; however, the government is stopping the actions of the authority and putting development above the long-term sustainable future of Barbuda.
Those projects, as outlined in the Throne Speech delivered by Governor General Sir Rodney Williams, last Thursday, are the US $250 million PLH Project, and the new airport outside of Codrington, capable of allowing private jets to land in Barbuda, which will cost more than $25 million upon completion; renewable energy projects which would make Barbuda the first green-energy island in the Caribbean, and solar, wind power, and storage batteries which would mark a giant leap forward in Barbuda and shortly in Antigua.
When asked what he expected from the 2020 Budget Speech, which will be presented by Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Thursday, Mussington said that he does not wish to see a repeat of the previous years’ speeches with empty being promises but none ever being fulfilled.
“I can tell you what I would not like to see is a repeat over the past two years of the same sorts of promises and notions. I think I heard that Barbuda will be up for not just one but three or four, $250 million in investment projects,” he said.
The marine biologist lamented the fact that, “these big time projects are being quoted and there doesn’t seem to be the realisation that, as a country which is really vulnerable in this climate crisis and the international treaties that we have signed on to, we have a lot of responsibility not to sign on to development that exposes us further”. The marine biologist added that any development should be approached in a manner which maintains a beneficial sustainable development plan for Barbuda on a whole.