16 July, 2010
Conservation: The twelfth, and final, exception to our fundamental right to own and hold property deals with the public interest issues of conservation and improvement. The Constitution makes it legal for a law to be passed that takes away our property for so long only as may be necessary for the purpose of any examination, investigation, trial or inquiry.
So, if the police find my gun stolen from my house being used in a crime, they can confiscate it for so long as is necessary for it to be used as an exhibit in the trial of the offender, but they cannot keep it after the trial. They have to give it back to me after the trial.
It is this exception that makes it legal for a planning law to provide for private land to be temporarily taken for the purpose of doing soil conservation on it. If government sees that I am allowing my land to be eroded by water and I am not doing something to prevent the erosion, they can come in and construct a wall or other safety feature to stop the erosion, and I cannot complain, so long as it is done under a law that gives this power. Of course, water erosion is not such a big problem in
Anguilla, but you get the point.
If the Agricultural Department has a law passed giving it the right to go into people's agricultural land and temporarily to take possession of it for the purpose of eradicating the hibiscus mealy bug if the owner refuses to do so himself, that would be legal under this exception.