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People put points

Mike King

People put points

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THIS?IS?NOT?THE?time for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the planned development between St David’s, Christ Church, and Six Roads, St Philip.
One of the consultants on the project, Dr Yolanda Alleyne, made that clear in relation to a call from chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, for an EIA.
Speaking at a highly charged town hall meeting at St Patrick’s Anglican Church, St Patrick’s, Christ Church, on Monday night, Alleyne said the session was merely to let residents and stakeholders have their say on the proposed project.
“There have been several applications in the area for housing development, but they have not been approved and that is why we are going through the plan process.
“There is no proposal to withdraw from agriculture or to develop any number of housing developments. This is an exercise to understand the issues that are going on and to come up with the best fit for the area.
“People are accustomed to town hall meetings that are to deal with environmental impact assessments which focus on a specific project that a developer has on the table and consultants have gone away and prepared a big document and they get a chance to look at that document and comment,” she said.
Ken Layne from Boarded Hall called the meeting a farce, while others, including Frere Pilgrim resident and sports commentator Andrew Sealy, said they were unsure what was the objective of the meeting.
However, Alleyne felt the meeting had achieved its goal.
“It gave an opportunity to hear what the people think because sometimes Government may set the policy and people may not be consulted at some stage. We have the National Development Plan, we have the medium-term strategic plan, we have all of those policies at the top, so we wanted to make sure we hear the views of the people who are actually using, living, owning, doing business in the community and I thought that the meeting went very well,” she said.
Alleyne said that Sir Frank Alleyne’s forthright views on having agricultural use of the land on the front-burner, was expected.
“His input on the planning team (as a consultant) is to make sure that we have all the knowledge, the best knowledge, about agricultural policy and the state of agricultural land, and he will guide us that way.
“Everyone brings their own expertise. Someone will do it for transport, someone else will do it [for] disaster risks. Sir Frank is going to make sure that it does not become housing top-heavy; he will give us some balance,” she said.
CARICOM Ambassador and former Christ Church Member of Parliament?Robert “Bobby” Morris said that much of the debate was artificial about agriculture versus housing, adding that Barbados needed them both. He said he wanted to see green areas, active spots for young people to enjoy themselves and housing development as well, but not Government units.
“There must be room for businesses and for industrial development to take place. Agriculture has its place but we are not living in 1900. I want the best for the area,” he said.
Agriculturalist Mike Gill made it clear to the audience where he stood.
“I?am a farmer and I am putting agriculture first. We need to grow sugar cane in order to grow other crops. A lot of non-productive land should be developed for agriculture. We have to stop taking up agricultural land.
“The building of housing has to be done but needs to be done on the land that cannot grow food,” Gill said to much applause. Richard Armstrong, the leading grower of sweet potatoes in this country, expressed concern about the future of the agriculture industry, adding that land for crop production was dwindling.