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Harsher penalties

Heather-Lynn Evanson

Harsher penalties

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Today is World Environment Day.
Go outside, find a tree and plant a kiss squarely on one of its leaves.
Or, if that is too extreme, pick up a piece of litter and bin it.
By demonstrating your love for plants, for clean gullies, for the waters surrounding this island, you are demonstrating your love for your space on this third planet from the sun.
This year’s theme is Raise Your Voice, Not The Sea Level and, according to Minister of Environment Dr Denis Lowe, Barbados in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has the honour of hosting the global event this year.
This week, Heather-Lynn’s Habitat takes a look at some issues relating to the island’s environment. And, by the way, you should be wearing green today.
Hold on, it is coming.
This is the word from Environment Minister Dr Denis Lowe about the eagerly awaited, long promised new environmental protection and management act.
Years after it was first proposed, the minister, who also has responsibility for drainage, said the act was now closer to fruition than ever before.
In fact, said Lowe, the proposed act should be going before Cabinet in the coming weeks.
“Since I’ve taken over the Ministry of the Environment, which was about six years ago, we have been really working hard to bring an environmental act on board and I am pleased to report it is now in its final stages to go for final drafting with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel,” he said.
His comments came in the wake of charges, from former officials at an agency charged with the protection of the environment, that a draft piece of legislation called the Environmental Management [Bill] had been “sitting” in the Solicitor-General’s chambers for a number of years.
While the legislation is pending, the penalty for an act of littering is still $10 – a penalty that dated from the 1960s.
Lowe stressed Government officials were “working very hard” to make sure that “we get the legislative framework in place that would beef up the penalties on illegal dumping and that would place a greater level of watchfulness, from the Government side, around the country relative to illegal dumping”.
When questioned specifically about the delay in getting the act passed, Lowe said the delay was necessary to get input from all the stakeholders.
“Not only Governmental stakeholders but private sector and citizens, and we’ve been pushing it vigorously to ensure that we get all of the comments.”
Those comments, he said, were now all in.
The Chief Parliamentary Counsel had sent forward the first draft, said Lowe; it had been looked over and “we’re satisfied it is in good shape to go forward and it should be going forward to Cabinet in the next few weeks”.
The proposed act would beef up the penalties for offences like littering and illegal dumping, as well as deal with issues like air quality, noise pollution and the burning of rubbish.