BVI News

In whose interest? Land owners called out!

Scientist Dr Cassandra Titley-O’Neal (left) and Deputy Governor Rosalie Adams

By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff

Deputy Governor Rosalie Adams and scientist Dr Cassandra Titley-O’Neal have questioned the interest of private developers and land owners as it relates to protection of the environment, which include ghuts and ponds located on private property.

During a community meeting last evening, Dr O’Neal, who owns Environmental Systems Limited, lamented that all ponds have been filled in Road Town, resulting in flooding.

She also noted that Government faces a major challenge, considering that it does not own the property on which a number of the ponds and ghuts are located.

“In gathering the different Government reports, we know that there was historically 77 ponds. Every single pond that was in the Road Town area has been filled. I am sure everybody can agree and recognize the flooding issues that we are having in the capital.”

“This (flooding) has a lot to do not only with the ponds, but also with the ghuts – construction of buildings in the middle of the ghut, cutting roads that do not follow the contours of the land.”

Dr Titley-O’Neal continued: “One of the biggest challenges that any government is going to face as well as the Town and Country Planning Department is our ghuts – our natural resources, our salt ponds, our mangroves are actually owned by not the government but by private interests. And so it is challenging at best to manage these resources to get the best use out of them when they are not in the hands of the government. But private interests have their own interest on how they see the value of their land and how they want to develop it.”

Deputy Governor: Stop polluting the water!

In the meantime, the deputy governor, Adams, issued an appeal for persons to desist from filling ponds and polluting the territory’s waters.

“What we are finding now is that all of our ponds are being filled up, and the natural habitat to some of the different animals are being erased. Along with that, there is quite a bit of pollutant being put into our waters. So that is an area that we need to really really focus on, to look and see where the developments are happening.”

The deputy governor further asserted: “Just the other day, a report was given that some old asphalt was being ripped up from the road and thrown into a pond, and that the fishes around there are dying. Obviously they are going to die. So we have to make sure that, as the developers are doing their work, they know that there is a proper location to store their debris, and not to put it in other places.”

“They failed to remember that global warming is upon us and, if we continue to fill up everything around the coastline, sooner or later there will be no place for the high tide to come in, and flooding of the homes and businesses around these areas will sure to happen. So, as we develop, I want us to be thinking about those ponds and other areas that they are blocking, so that the natural progression of the water will continue to happen,” added Deputy Governor Adams.

She, along with Dr Titley-O’Neal, raised their concerns during a meeting held at Sir Briercliffe Hall to get public’s views on issues regarding development of the BVI. The meeting is part of the ‘EnVIsion 2040’ assessment, which the European Union is funding for the BVI through the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

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