The Ministry of Environment, Water Resources and Drainage is continuing to lay the foundation for the implementation of the much-touted Environmental Management Act.
A four-member team from the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), the agency under whose ambit the Act’s regulatory mandate will fall, left the island over the weekend for a five-day study tour, as part of a technical assistance programme with Trinidad and Tobago’s Environmental Management Authority (EMA).
In giving some insight into the trip, EPD’s Director, Jeffery Headley, who heads the team, said after a review of regional air and noise pollution legislation, they felt it was prudent that officers should receive a “hands-on view of environmental management in Trinidad and Tobago”, especially pertaining to the EMA’s operational and regulatory practices.
While in Trinidad, Mr. Headley; his Deputy, Anthony Headley; Senior Environmental Technician, Nicole Sue; and Environmental Technician, Shaina Goodridge, will be assigned to the EMA and two other departments. They will also be visiting industrial estates and the EMA’s Air Quality Monitoring Station, as well as Trinidad’s Environmental Police Unit.
The use of noise metres, complaint processes, environmental mechanisms, management of air pollution through the use of environmental claims, water quality issues and local legislation in Trinidad will also be examined.
“We are hoping that this study tour will enhance the office and allow staff to have a feel for how the actual process is done after legislation; because we are also looking at legislation here. In Barbados right now, as you know, there is a serious problem of air quality; not only outdoor air, but indoor air as well. So, this trip will also give us some knowledge of how to enforce matters relating to air, noise and water,” Mr. Headley said.
He further stated that the proposed visits to Trinidad’s Air Quality Monitoring Stations would be crucial, in light of plans to establish similar facilities here.
In speaking about the pending legislation, the EPD spokesman underlined that the enactment of the Environmental Management Bill, which was currently with the Solicitor General’s Office, was crucial.
“The department and the Ministry as a whole are trying to get this piece of legislation on the statute books. Currently, we can do some enforcement since we have the Marine Pollution Act, but that is specific only to Marine Pollution. With respect to solid waste, air and water quality, noise, and all the other issues that we manage at the EPA, they are all dependent on the ratification of that piece of legislation”.
According to Mr. Headley, when the EPD was under the aegis of the Ministry of Health some years ago, the Health Services Act could have been used. He stressed, however, that that practice was proving to be “fairly challenging” with the department now governed by the Ministry of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage.
“The proposed Act is vital to the EPD’s work, particularly its regulatory and enforcement functions,” he said.