Officials stay silent on latest Yida controversy

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By Elesha George

Authorities are remaining tight-lipped on alleged breaches of environmental laws at the Yida development in the north of Antigua.

The Department of Environment, the Department of Fisheries and the Development Control Authority (DCA) are reportedly investigating the claim that a backhoe was used to push white marl onto several mangroves bordering the coastline.

DCA, Observer has been informed, has taken the lead on the investigation.

However, when contacted, DCA head Frederick Southwell said he was not currently answering questions from the media.

Observer has been told that the video, which was allegedly recorded on Saturday, could be “fake”.

Another video shared yesterday showed government vehicles stationed outside a bushy area that had been blocked off by chains.

The assumption was that the developers were not allowing government officials to enter the premises.

Sources however say that Yida developers invited the DCA to the site based on the concerns raised.

The government officials, Observer has been told, were waiting for a Yida representative to open up the entrance so that they could review the alleged environmental breach.

The 2,000-acre development is set feature factories, homes and holiday resorts. Supporters say it will create several hundred jobs and increase exports. But opponents fear it is destroying the pristine marine reserve, decimating valuable coastal vegetation, threatening the habitat of critically endangered animals and putting the island at greater risk of hurricane damage.

Chinese investors have been given a licence to establish their own special economic zone within the scheme, entitling the new community’s residents and businesses to benefit from a slew of tax waivers.

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