On 2 June Dr Denis Lowe sought to convince television viewers why Barbados should have a Waste To Energy Plant as one of the key elements of a waste management strategy for Barbados. We should recall Barbados’ participation in the United Nations Conference on Environmental & and Developmental Conference which was held in Rio Brazil June 3rd to 14th 1992. At this conference 27 Rio principles were adopted which now pervade international law and governance. Of specific significance is and I now share Principle 10 which states:
“Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.”
In addition to Principle 10, the Manifesto of the Democratic Labour Party 2013 has listed “Good Honest Governance” as one of its pillars for guiding Barbados’ development over the next five years. The Hon. Freundel Stuart, Q.C, MP stated in the manifesto “ Good Governance is characterized by the principles of participation, consensus, accountability, transparency, responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, equity and inclusion, and the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making and the allocation of resources.”
In light of this, every citizen must ask the following questions because research is showing that with the option of a Waste to Energy Plant, the disadvantages far outweighs its limited benefits.
Has the Cabinet of Barbados made a decision on a Waste To Energy Plant without consultation with the citizenry or the Environmental Protection Department and the Town and Country Development Planning Office, the designated Government entities charged with environmental regulation and control?
If the Environmental Protection Department as regulators were consulted did they approve the setup of a Waste To Energy Plant and what were the Terms Of Reference provided on the approval?
How will the by product of the burnt garbage be disposed of without causing contamination of our water supply or air?
Will the feedstock be sufficient to allow this ‘energy hog’ to operate at full capacity without decreasing the amount of material available to the current recycling operators including SBRC, B’s Recycling and other small operators for recycling?
Can the Minister provide an example of another Small Island Developing State which has successfully adopted the approach of a Waste To Energy Plant?
If the Government stubbornly and arrogantly ignores the environmental concerns and imperils the health of citizens and the environment, what redress is available to the citizenry?
What Barbados needs now more than ever is legislated recycling which would not incur any costs to the government and not the burning of garbage or more landfills. I just cannot understand why the rush for the most expensive, dangerous, unsustainable option under the guise of renewable energy is being considered.
Dr Denis and Cabinet I am pleading, let rational thinking be your guide for the sake of future generations and not imperil the health of the country. We need to have open government for the people and not another Greenland which was shrouded in mystery.
With Greenland, Mr Richard Goddard was truly a Mountie as the lone voice in the wilderness. He was vilified and suffered personal insults for speaking out on the environmental madness at Greenland. Will history repeat itself where egos and arrogance diminishes reasoning of our stubborn politicians and technocrats?
Neither can we put money above the potential health issues should our air and water quality be compromised from a Dioxin producing Waste To Energy Plant. Does the Ministry of Transport and Works or the Environmental Protection Department have the necessary equipment to continually test air quality for the many modern contaminants found on our highways, much less those that will result from burning municipal waste that often contain plastics and other toxic materials?
Let’s not be fooled by the tired cliché used by the owners of these high risk plants “Our plants use proven cutting edge technologies and are safe” the aforementioned was said of Fukishima, Chernobyl and Bhopal, we know today they lied. We cannot tempt fate in a densely populated tiny 166 sq mile island dependent on tourism. If you think I am an alarmist look at the Shell leak at Pegwell Boggs and the contamination which now makes the land useless. Dioxin is much deadlier and linked to increased incidence of leukaemia and other cancers.
It is my opinion that this proposal needs further ventilation and to go through the rubric of good governance set out by the Honourable Prime Minister in the 2013 manifesto. Not for once be unaware of the ability of the citizenry to mobilize the Villages, Unions, NGO’s, as well as international agencies to seek judicial review as set out within the constitution.
This fight is bigger than me and is not about me, to vilify or target me would be a betrayal of all Bajans. Vigorous open dialogue has always has always been the Bajan way, as wellbeing of country must be foremost rather than the bank accounts of a few.