YIDA's EIA inadequate, fails to meet terms of reference

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The Department of Environment’s (DoE) review of Yida’s Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) has cited the study for failing to meet terms of reference (ToR), failing to conduct adequate new research, and for relying on outdated data from two decades ago.
In a February 9, 2017 minute attached to the review and dispatched to the head of the Development Control Authority (DCA), Chief Environment Officer Diann Black-Layne stated: “The information provided does not allow the DoE to provide any recommendations for approval on detailed projects.”
In the actual review conducted between January 19, 2017 and January 31, 2017, the DoE lists the SEIA’s inadequacies point by point. From the onset the review states, “The SEIA document attempts to update the 1997 EIA completed by Ivor Jackson & Associates,” and further noted that it “fails to effectively respond to the guidelines highlighted in terms of reference”.
ToR were issued to Yida International Investment Antigua Limited on October 30, 2015, and updated ToR for a hydrological assessment of the development site were issued on September 26, 2016. According to the review, studies which the Fisheries Division and the DoE recommended had not been done.
Under the heading “biodiversity”, the review stated: “The report does not highlight the current vegetation nor the fact that area has been cleared nor does it state what is remaining on site but was rather generic.”
This is in spite of the fact that according to the DoE “both ToRs requested baseline data … which includes the status of existing flora and fauna”.
With regard to fauna, the review stated “the report only highlights wildlife present in 1997 but not what is currently on site after the 2015 and 2016 clearing incidents”.
The DoE noted that the SEIA conflicted with its own observations when it said that the mainland had no endangered or rare species and that mangroves were not worth environmental protection. In response, the DoE stated, “The area in question is one of the more abundant mangrove areas on the island”.
Under the heading “Soil” the review stated, “It is unclear how the soil assessment was conducted as minimal data was provided on soil quality and no data on soil bearing capacity.”
Under the heading “Water/Flood Conditions” the review noted, “The information provided is very limited in scope” and “provides no clear hydraulic analysis and calculations apart from 1997 run off calculations”.
On the topic of coastal/marine resources the DoE stated that “there was no updated information provided on marine condition since 1997”.
In its critique of the measures for site mitigation and monitoring presented in the SEIA, the DoE stated, “mitigation measures are generic and vague and not detailed or specific enough to assess the effectiveness in mitigating against risks.”
Even based on the outdated data, the SEIA actually noted that activities such as creation of beaches would have catastrophic effects on the site and further noted that more studies were needed to satisfy the requirements for the development.
Additionally, the DoE strongly reiterated the fact that construction activities which Yida International Investment (Antigua) Limited would have to engage in are illegal under the Fisheries Act 2006 and the Environmental Management & Protection Act 2015.
This includes the removal of “the vast majority of coastal mangroves” in the 2,138.8-acre development site which the DoE estimated to be up to 75 per cent of the mangroves within the area. Other illegal activities that would have to be done include dredging, alteration of turtle nesting areas and pollution of the marine space.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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