23 December, 2007

RSPB-BOTs


Submission of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to the Foreign Affairs Committee on the British Overseas Territories. It is a regrettable fact that we Anguillians are too caught up in our daily activities to give much thought to where Anguilla is going. Yet, there are no other persons who should be more concerned about our environment, and plans for the future economic development of our island, than we ourselves. Commentators such as Dame Dr Bernice Lake, Colville Petty and Lolita Davis Richardson have been lamenting over this paradox for years. Nearly everyone else is silent.

The very concept of discussing where Anguilla is going is difficult for most islanders to grasp. There is no point writing about the issue. Anguillians, it is said, do not read. Some who genuinely care try to stir up local enthusiasm by making a foreign conspiracy out of the subject. So, we hear from the soap box that if Anguilla is going downhill, it is due to a secret British plot. The object is to drive Anguillians off their land. Anguillians must be permitted to over-develop the island in order to destroy its culture. This is intended to permit the British ex-pats to take over. They want to repopulate the island with hordes of semi-skilled Glaswegians and Cockneys. They are all just dying to give up their homes and move to Anguilla. So goes the theory. You will hear it whispered all over the island.

The hard evidence is entirely to the contrary. It is xenophobic rubbish. A little research indicates that there are more British individuals and organizations than Anguillians worrying over where Anguilla is going. It took the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee to begin an examination into how Anguilla is governed. They called for interviews and submissions. The RSPB filed a submission. This is something that I am not aware any individual or organization from Anguilla has yet done. It is the most accurate description yet of where Anguilla is going that I have read. The RSPB points out that Anguilla’s natural environment is under threat. This has been caused partly by a failure to implement systems of effective local government. The rate of tourism development is increasing rapidly. The natural assets which attract visitors to the island are in danger of being destroyed. Areas, such as Sombrero Island, that have been previously proposed for protection, are still not approved by the Government. Protected areas that have been approved are in the process of being degazetted. Our legislation does not require that development plans and proposals undergo an Environment Impact Assessment. Where an EIA is called for, there is inadequate expertise or capacity to accurately assess the Assessment produced by the developer. Decisions are made without consideration of the information in the EIA, or even of the government experts’ own comments on it. EIAs are frequently difficult to access, and are rarely shared with the public. Planning procedures are not transparent, and do not engage with civil society. Government frequently gives assurances to developers that, no matter what adverse indications turn up in the EIA, the project will nevertheless be approved.

As the Submission points out, our capacity to implement effective environmental governance and respond to environmental crises is constrained by limited human and financial resources. The Environment Department and the Anguilla National Trust only have small numbers of staff that are stretched very thinly. As ANT relies to a significant extent on funding from government, it is not able to respond objectively when consulted on development proposals. It would be threatened with budget cuts if it dared raise objections either loudly or effectively. ANT’s officers are principally government civil servants steeped in a culture of not rocking the boat. The Anguilla Archaeological and Historical Society is all-volunteer, but it suffers from all the symptoms of old age, and does not function any longer.

As our natural environment continues to deteriorate, government appears to be taking little or no action to remedy this. Our lack of capacity, coupled by the lack of interest or support from the UK Government on these issues, means that the deterioration of our ecosystem continues largely unabated. The Anguilla government needs to provide sufficient resources so that we can implement similar environmental standards as they have in the UK and Europe. We need to put a greater proportion of the revenue we raise from our environment into locally established environmental funds and systems. Expenditure must be transparently linked to the purpose for which the funds were originally raised.

I don’t know why I bother to post this. A sense of frustration with government’s failings overwhelms. The problem is not limited to government. It extends down to the village level. No one in Anguilla who counts cares. No one in Anguilla who cares counts. So it has always been and so it seems it will always be. Emile once told me that it would be political suicide for his government to attempt to introduce fisheries regulations to control the activities of our fishermen until they had killed the last fish. He was right. I fear that the same rule applies to our environment and to our economy.


9 comments:

  1. this link is also very interesting;

    http://tinyurl.com/32roqb

    from BioDiplomacy submission to the Select Committees Foreign Affairs

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  2. The FCO says, "We need to put a greater proportion of the revenue we raise from our environment into locally established environmental funds and systems. Expenditure must be transparently linked to the purpose for which the funds were originally raised."

    "The Minister of Finance further disclosed that with effect from January 1, 2003, an Environmental Levy would be introduced. It will be collected by the Anguilla Electricity Company on behalf of the Government with the payment of electricity bills. He said the tax will be at the rate of 5% of the electricity bill of each household or business. This will provide for a minimum collection of $5.00, amounting to $1.5 million in 2003. He noted that this amounted to a fraction of the over $2 million expected to be spent on maintaining a sustainable environment."
    --The Anguillian, 13 December 2002

    He later revealed that the money would be used to fund garbage collection services.

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  3. From the United Front Manifesto 2000:

    ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

    The United Front programme for the economic and social development of Anguilla will be based on careful planning combining economic, social and environmental planning in an integrated approach. A five year integrated economic and social development plan will be prepared and implemented, on the basis of the programme goals and objectives and specific targets and commitments contained in this United Front agreement.

    From the United Front Manifesto 2005

    AUF Vision 2020: Anguilla in the year 2020 will be a harmonious and empowered society, in a healthy environment...

    AUF Mission 2005 and beyond: To manage the environment to achieve long term sustainability, for the benefit of present and future generations.

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  4. This Government is hellbent on destroying Anguillians with their many taxes and tax increases. Tieing the Levy to the Electricity bill is both arbitrary and abominable, given the enormous amounts charged by Anglec to its customers; including the so called "fuel surcharge" etc. The 5% is taken on the total bill which includes this illegal charge, and will kill a lot of hard working Anguillians..

    What is the Government paying Anglec, now a Private Corporation, to manage this scheme for it??

    Why is it necessary to use Anglec or its billing system to impose this unnecessary additional tax on people??

    This Government has sold Anglec to a few people when it was already owned by ALL the People of Anguilla.

    Check the ownership of the shares in Anglec now and you wilol see a pattern of what is called "Interlocking directorates".

    A few people and institutions in Anguilla control all the key assets in Anguilla, and some of them are Decision Makers.

    That this continues to happen without a word from the people of Anguilla illustrates the docility and unawareness, not to mention the relative stupidity, of the people.

    It has oft been said that a people get the Government they deserve. Anguilla speaks volumes to that assertion.

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  5. The United Front is the WORST thing EVER to happen to the people of Anguilla. The rich elites get richer and the working people get nothing. Check out the enormous increase in wealth of the Gangs associated with United Front personel.

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  6. The call for written submissions by the Foreign Affairs Committee generated 36 responses from Overseas Territory governments, groups and individuals. They included submissions from Pitcairn Island (population less than 50), the frozen Falkland Islands and remote St. Helena, but not a word from Anguilla.

    Those in Anguilla whose incessant posturing about how we are treated by the FCO were completely silent when they had a chance to really change things. I believe this exposes their true motives, which are all about the next election.

    I can only repeat the words of Eric Reid in his Farewell Message, in which he warned us about "persons who become community minded only to ensure their own personal gain."

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  7. It is quite distressing to hear of the sad state of affairs in Anguilla on the net. We seems to have a knack for speaking out on-line but not where it really matters. What is wrong with that picture is that, even though our problems are aired and debated, it really achieves nothing in terms of a remedy. There is no outward change in policy or the Gov't’s position on the issues that directly affect us. We appear to be raging about issues that are not at the forefront of the Gov't 's agenda, whatever that means.

    It is therefore our responsibilty to work to remove these officials so that the proper focus and plans can be speedily implemented. If not we will be the laughing stock of the region and our economy and ecosystems will ultimately collapse. The greed for financial gain or advancement is clouding the thought process and judgement of our people and it is time that we put and end to it permanently, once and for all.

    Why are we so resistant to outside suggestions is beyond my comprehension, and reeks of a more sinister conspiracy, where our people are being systematically brainwashed into believing that the UK and all other foreigners are bent on dispossessing us of our land and homes. In fact to the contrary, our leaders are filling our heads with this utter nonsense to cover their deception and deceipt. There is a way to recover from all this, and that. is to show them through the democratic process that we no longer need their services and are willing to allow a new breed with a new vision for the country to take over the leadership and propel us into the future with a new purpose and direction. We have to stop waiting on others to do this and take responsibility to better ourselves seriously.

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  8. "How could you tell how much of it was lies? It might be true that the average human being was better off now than he had been before the Revolution. The only evidence to the contrary was the mute protest in your own bones, the instinctive feeling that the conditions you lived in were intolerable and that at some other time they must have been different. It struck him that the truly characteristic thing about modern life was not its cruelty and insecurity, but simply its bareness, its dinginess, its listlessness. Life, if you looked about you, bore no resemblance not only to the lies that streamed out of the telescreens, but even to the ideals that the Party was trying to achieve ... The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering - a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting... The reality was decaying, dingy cities where underfed people shuffled to and fro in leaky shoes, in patched-up nineteenth-century houses that smelt always of cabbage and bad lavatories." --George Orwell, 1949

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  9. George Orwell's Animal Farm?
    Jeh jeh and Merry Christmas.
    We had 25% Ham from Proctor, sent in the pigs.

    But really, I was under the impression it was Anguilla, Anguilla politicians and people who were so unconcerned about Anguilla's future.
    From the report by the RSPB I take away that it is a general trend in the overseas territories and Anguilla is one of the many who are just not getting it just yet.
    It made me feel better, it did.

    Thank you for sharing, Mr. Mitchell

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