Annual report reveals breaches of environmental regulations
There continues to be breaches of environmental regulations which has led to illegal logging, illegal sand-mining and projects being developed without consent and development permits.
The irregularities were highlighted in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) Annual Report for the Financial Year 2017-2018. The Ministry's legal division is working with the Attorney General's Office as the illegal practices have led to civil and criminal court proceedings.
Five months ago a landslide at Tafua, Savai’i killed three people in an area which was quarried by the villagers. At the time, the MNRE Chief Executive Officer, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, emphasized the importance of contractors applying for development consent permits prior to any work being undertaken.
“It is pertinent the public should apply for a development consent (DC) for many reasons but most importantly the safety of the public. Safety is paramount to the MNRE and that in order for you to legally be allowed to mine the sand; work on your home project, reclamation projects etc,. one must retain a development consent," he said.
Ulu said under the law it is a requirement that the Ministry’s Planning and Urban Management Agency (PUMA) did an assessment of the proposed project site prior to the issuing of a permit.
“We consider the environment in any development consent permit and in this specific case, we assess whether this is safe for quarrying among other things."
“We don’t just issue a development consent permit, a thorough assessment must be conducted, to avoid situations as the current one,” he said.
For a site that a developer proposes to quarry, Ulu said the PUMA assessment will give the permissible quantity of soil that can be extracted from the site.