Senate approves Environment Protection Bill

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On Wednesday, the Senate passed the 2019 Environment Management and Protection Act, creating sustainable environmental management and providing for the protection of natural resources.

Senator Aziza Lake, who lauded the 166-page piece of legislation, called on the public to read the Act and stated that the country “cannot develop at the expense of our environment, especially in regard to our future generations.”

She added that the legislation will ensure transparency is brought to the decision-making processes involving the environment.

“Another principle that I appreciate in this Act is public participation and transparency in the decision-making process. Throughout the Act, there are numerous examples of dialogue with the general public,” she said

She added, “Safe-guarding the environment is not only the duty of the government. We all must have a vested interest in the environment.”

Senator Lake also spoke about Section 4 of the Act which notes that, “The Department [of the Environment] shall employ… the “polluter pays” principle which provides that the polluter should bear the cost of measures to address pollution and restore the environment to an acceptable state, and should compensate citizens for the harm they suffer from pollution.”

Additionally, Part 5 of the Act orders that all users of environmental pollutants must apply for a pollutant control permit, whereby they will be liable for the payment of pollution charges with respect to the release of any pollutant into the environment.

“It is high time that persons with entities who want to cause damage to the environment receive significant fines,” she said.

Lake noted that inspectors play a vital role in ensuring the legislation is followed by the Antiguan and Barbudan public.

“No matter if we pass any Act or Bill, the most important part is the implementation. For persons who may flout the law, the legislation will have no teeth if no one enforces [it] and does what is necessary,” she said.

The 2019 Environment Management and Protection Bill details the processes of the environmental impact assessment (EIA), methods of environmental management, and compliance and enforcement of the Act.

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