25 November, 2007

Polluter Pays

Commitment No 8: Ensure that Legislation and Policies Reflect the Principle that the Polluter Should Pay for Prevention or Remedies. This was the eighth commitment made by the government of Anguilla, like other OT governments which in the year 2001 signed up to an Environmental Charter [link here] .

Dr Mike Pienkowski is the Chairman of the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum. He was engaged as a consultant to examine how we were performing under our Charter. He prepared a Report of August 2007. The Report measures performance by the year 2007 of UKOTs and the UK Government in implementing the 2001 Environment Charters. A copy of his 19-page Report can be read [link here]. He calls it “Measures of Performance by 2007 of UKOTs and UK Government in Implementing the 2001 Environment Charters or their Equivalents”.

According to this Report, Anguilla is one of the low performers among the UKOTs. We have no effective Acts in place to implement the “polluter-pays principle”. Unlike Bermuda and TCI, we have no record of any polluter ever paying. Unlike Cayman Islands, TCI and the Falklands we have in place no monitoring of pollution and adherence to planning conditions. Dr Pienkowski says that we have enforcement measures in place, but implementation is a problem. The result is that unlike Bermuda, Cayman, and the TCI we have no record of any enforcement cases having been brought.

Nothing happened with the Delta used engine oil spill of several months ago.

Nobody found out who brought the Cuban Tree Frogs on to the island.

The relatively recent introduction of the giant African snail has been unpunished.

No garbage collector dumping on secluded areas of private land has ever even had his wrist slapped.

No yacht emptying its bilge or toilet waste in Sandy Ground bay has ever been cautioned.

The unsanitary practice of the sewage collectors of dumping truckloads of the stuff onto other people’s land has silently been allowed to continue.

Since we do not do any monitoring for pollution, we only discover by accident when it happens.

And, I suppose, that since we do not clean-up there is no cost to pass on to the polluter to pay!

Or, is this all an unfair and mistaken perception?


  1. If there is no penalty, embarrassment or disincentive for dumping my rubbish on your property, and if my only concern is to claw my way out of this crab barrel we're all in, why should I care about the environment, or what you think, or what some scientists in England think?

  2. I hope they address this pollution and not wait until the mega yatch mariner comes on stream to say, we did not envision such pollution. Or when an oil tanker bust a leak in the Atlantic that they all scramble for international help.

    Can't you all see the investors are taking advantage of our politicians who are still using the 1970s and 1980s practices. These investors are much more business savy, computer literate and wise beyond years in tactical negotiations than anyone elected in ANguilla. Hence they can easily abuse our system without appearing to do so to those in office.

    Imagine if we had a computerise system to collect taxes from the hotels, do you think we could have so many uncollected tax out there. All the major hotels and villas are using computerise accounting and villa managment systems, yet the civil service refuse to invest in technology.

    The only way to enforce and keep track of who is committing these acts is to invest in informational technology. Is it so hard to heavily fine or ban yatchs that pollute our waters.

    ALl that time and enegry went into a litter Act and it is seldom enforced. This is the time for citizen journalists to take up their cameras and catch these polluters and litter bugs in the Act and post the pictures online.
    It is only when someone comes down with a serious disease and perhaps die, will environment concerns be taken seriously in this place.

  3. Laws and regulations explicitly state who should pay and of course it’s the person or persons found responsible who are liable. Why then should we as Anguilla be made to pay for somebody's mess? It is not a difficult thing to investigate these individuals and arrive at a finding indicating who the responsible party or parties are. Punish those responsible or guilty of these outragious acts. We are the one who are being punished by the infestations of the snails, frogs, iguanas, and God knows what else. The cost to implement control measures will be astronomical and a great burden on Anguillians , its Govt and its economy. We are the ultimate losers in this battle and the investors, well, they are laughing all the way to the bank, that is located in some overseas region, while we struggle to prevent these creatures from overtaking our lands, crops and our homes. Is this justice? You tell me.

  4. As far I am aware there is really no legislation to ensure that pollutors pay for anything. However, there have been small incidences with fires, trash, etc for the EHU have dealt with and for which the perpetrators were required to, and did clean up or resolve the matter - a far cry from pollution as we speak.

    Now there are many instances of pollution - blowing point waste oil, fuel from boats, sewage disposal, etc.

    Only one case over the last two years qualifies for this discussion, as far as my recollection goes: waste oil storage problems at Delta Petroleum where the treatment plant failed terribly and much oil seeped below the water table. This matter dragged out for over a year and to date nothing has been done to clean up the pollution. DP only fixed the separation facility, and this was after the intervention of the Chief Minister and DG.

  5. In a sense we are all polluters but that is because the gov’t gives us little other incentive. Anguilla was a paradise and still could be. Instead, everything that gets landed here stays here – usually getting taken to the rapidly-expanding, eventually-to-be-depleted, Corito dump. It need not be so. Put a deposit on everything that comes in (think in terms of the bottles that mention that in certain States you get a 5 or 10 cent refund when it is returned). I have been known to drink the occasional beer; nevertheless, I’ll happily sign up for a deposit of US$1 (or even US$100) per bottle. If I buy a case at Albert’s I pay that deposit. I now have the choice of tossing the bottle in the garbage at a cost of US$1 or taking it to Albert and he credits me the $1 a bottle. In turn he pays a $1/bottle on each container of beer which comes in and he gets the same back when the empties are sent back to the supplier. Similarly Jacquie’s friend Jimmy would be les inclined to keep someone else’s yard cluttered with car wrecks if each one had a refundable US$5,000.00 tag on it – you get the money back when the vehicle leaves Anguilla’s shores –either as part of a new artificial reef, or as parts, or to be compacted as scrap metal somewhere else.

    Is this difficult? No. Gov’t could introduce such an environmental deposit system to work in the same way as they brought in their 1% Customs fee a few years ago. The long-term savings (at Corito and for our health) could be huge. Why should Anguilla be the world’s dumping ground?

  6. The National Trust says they got no time for the Environmental Charter. They are busy working under the St. Georges Declaration, which is much more meaningful to us in Anguilla.

    OK, the St. Georges Declaration says "In all cases where individuals and institutions damage natural resources, they will pay for rehabilitation."

    What have they done about that, who has been prosecuted for such violations, how much price they paid for rehabilitation, who got the money and where de money gon?

  7. I'd like to commend the poster who suggests that there should be a refundable deposit on things.

    To that I would add that a lot of people put their rubbish into used grocery bags (the kind you get at the typical supermarket check out). I don't know how long it takes for the plastic in them to biodegrade but I bet it a long time. Why can't that quality of bag be banned (or subject to a big environment charge) and have the supermarkets bring in the kind which is faster to biodegrade?


  9. What is going on with you people? Have you all gone mad ?A surcharge on beer, cars etc? Who will pay an extra 5 grand on a car? That’s preposterous. What we need is an effective mechanism in place to ensure that we are recycling our waste. Cans, plastics and metals can be compacted and shipped to recycling plants abroad. Our people will benefit more so than levying an additional charge on our imports. Gov't can and should contact foreign companies in the recycling business and try to establish a deal with them. This will greatly alleviate our problem with hard waste disposal. We have to stop thinking like naive people who have no knowledge of these solutions. We cannot instinctively go around imposing charges or taxes on materials as a solution. There serious ramification to consider when this is done. Local businesses will have to increase the prices of their products, and we as consumers will have to pay more for those items. The cost of might be too high, even the hotels will have to raise their prices. Who will pay such exorbitant prices for beer or any other product that comes in a bottle? Are planning to close down Anguilla? Lets be rational here please and think this out before we make a fool of ourselves and alienate our people and destroy our economy.

    It is evident that we need to address our pollution problem and we need people who are reasonable and rational, not people with convoluted and crazy ideas that were hatched up over some dominoes and rum meet.

    The time is now, to institute the policies and measures to protect our environment from disaster. Hesitancy or failure to act would definitely be our own undoing. I live in a community where the city has policies in place that allows an inspector to inspect your property for violations. If you are in violation, you first receive a notice to clean or remove your trash, if not done with in the time prescribed you are fine and the city then commissions an independent contractor to go and remove it and bills you for the charge of removal. If fees are not paid the city sues you for the money or if you prevent or interfere with the inspector as he tries to enforce the regulation they lock you up. Policies such as these are what are needed and strict enforcement.

  10. If businesses fail to pay taxes, hey , we shut them down until they pay plain and simple. Why should these investors enjoy the fruits of our land and not pay their dues? Our tax collectors should be empowered to lock the doors on these crooks. There should also be harsher fines levied on them if the are late and make it so that they would want to pay up. It has nothing to do with the system used whether its good old accounting or a high tech computerized system. Our people need to be aware of who owes who and who needs to pay. After all we don’t have a million people or businesses to keep track of so how hard can that really be or how taxing can it be on our civil servants? They need to wake up and get off their lazy behinds and do some work.

  11. The following was posted on anguillatalk on 21 October 2004:

    "What you need to open a thread on is the illegal dumping all over the island in particular Sandy Ground. I had to reprimand one of the political candidates in this area a couple weeks ago when I saw her dumping an old stove and some old hotel linen on the North Side of the pond. She apologised but continued to dump her garbage. Now, that will contribue to the litter problem."

  12. Several years ago the Environmental Health Unit announced that they were about to launch a "name and shame" campaign against those who believed that the nearest dirt road, or their own yard, was where we're supposed to dump our garbage and old cars.

    It is disappointing that they have not fulfilled their promise to us.

  13. "What is going on with you people? Have you all gone mad ?A surcharge on beer, cars etc? Who will pay an extra 5 grand on a car?"
    This poster misses the point. It is not a surcharge. It is a refundable deposit. When you take back your empty, you get your money back. We can bleat all we want about cotrol and implementation - but that simply passes the buck. People need a financial incentive to curb their ways.
    That said, s/he makes perfect points regarding the issue of recycling. Like it or not, it has to come.

  14. If I want to know what Anguilla will be like in 20 years, I often look to Bermuda.

    Church goers at the Emmanuel Baptist Church on Dundonald Street in North Hamilton yesterday found that someone had dumped three truck loads of leaves, tree trimmings and scrap metal on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to their church.

    The Rev. C. Winston Rawlins commented, "I think it's despicable. I want it to be shown and shamed in the newspaper so people can see how callous this is."

  15. It is interesting that we can see the wrongs committed by everyone but ourselves.

    We are really the ones to blame for our present dilemma and we, ultimately, have a responsiblity to formulate policy and regulations to address it.

    Litter is everywhere, all around us but no one is penalized for this littering. Signs should be posted in conspicuous spots condemning littering and clearly show the fines you will pay if caught. Public awareness of this problem is of utmost importance. I've lived in the USA for some time and if you are caught by the police they can ticket you and make you pay fines .If the fines are high enough it will discourage people from littering. Litter includes, rubbish, paper, trash, glass, you are even fined if you are caught disposing of oil or oil products into the ground or waterways of theses cities. These type of regulations compel people and businesses to recycle and thus helps save our environment. We are a small country and our land mass limits the availibilty of waste disposal sites-dump yards, thus recycling is the only way to go to prevent hazardous toxins from leaching into our soil and ground water and thus creating a health crisis. If we do not take this issue seriously we are surely doomed. There are a lot of companies out there that will be glad to obtain these materials from us if we only seek them out. Our environment is a small and fragile one and can easily be destroyed if we are not careful.

  16. People don't litter because they need to be educated, they litter because there's no enforcement, no penalty and no pride. We can't change these things but littering the landscape with ugly signs.

  17. We are a small island with a comparatively small waste stream and extremely expensive transportation. We don't have recycling because there's nothing we can recycle that will pay enough to break even.

    Have you noticed that Environmental Health used to collect glass bottles but they quietly stopped? That was because they were losing money and we won't pay taxes to subsidise recycling.

    The company that has the metals recycling contract in Cayman just shut down, owing money all over the island. And Cayman has a whole lot more scrap metal than we do.

    Yes, ships and barges leave Anguilla empty. That doesn't mean it's inexpensive to ship stuff out of here. It's not.

    Call US Customs and tell them you want to ship a load of scrap metal to a steel mill in the Gulf states. Don't forget to tell them we have the Giant African Snail and the Pink Mealy Bug. See if they laugh at you.

    Don't lecture people about recycling unless you have financial figures to justify what you're demanding that we do.

  18. Environmental Health needs to follow through with actions to its platitudes.

    A few months ago they got their usual, periodical column-inches of publicity in which they announced that they were looking for members of the public to volunteer to be litter-wardens (I can't recall if any token pay was involved - but many would do it for free anyway). My eagerness to sign up was tempered by the memory that when they made a similar announcement about 4 years ago, efforts to sign up were met with a "We'll get back to you". They're still "Getting back".

    It's a great idea but needs to be implemented properly, not left on their shelf (or in their bin).

    Can legislation be passed making everyone automatically a litter warden and giving them sort of "citizen's arrest" (or better) powers?

  19. > "Don't lecture people about recycling unless you have financial figures to justify what you're demanding that we do."

    What we do is act like organized societies do elsewhere. We state our objective, like "We refuse to let Anguilla be a dumping ground for the rest of the world" and then we go from there. The people and businesses of other communities and countries pay for the recycling one way or another. It does not *have* to be strictly financially profitable if there are other benefits (health, less pollution, land-use). There is often a trade-off between various desirables.

    As to the comment about boats charging to take stuff off the island - it is called back-freighting. The shipping lines set their rates assuming that their cargos are one-way shipments. Sure there may be some charge for shipping back but it won't be anywhere near the full blown inward freight. Indeed the laws of economics say that inward freight rates would be reduced. Anyone can figure that one out - you don't need an MBA in accounts or economics.

    As to the possibility of bugs in the scrap metal - that can easily be sorted out if enough resources are devoted to it. Yes, there is a cost - but there is a bigger cost in allowing the status quo to continue.

    Where are the visionaries? Why are there so many cynics?

    "For every problem there is a solution" - John Lennon et al

  20. The following, from today's Bermuda Sun, indicates how they intend to address the same problem:

    Litter louts set for on-the-spot fines
    Officers to ‘act like traffic wardens’ with fines of $250 under new proposals

    People who dump trash in parks or on the beach could be hit with on-the-spot fines as part of a get-tough campaign to clean up Bermuda's public spaces.

    Police, park rangers and other public officers will gain the power to hand out the $250 tickets under proposals contained in a redrawn Parks Act due to go before Cabinet.

    A range of offences is covered under the revised Act, from fly-tipping, to graffiti to breaking fences and gates in public parks. In extreme cases, a spot-fine could be handed out to someone who drops a candy wrapper.

    The clean-up campaign comes after pressure from the Parks Department and environmental groups, who point to a steady increase in old fridges, TVs, foodstuffs and industrial waste being dumped on the island.

    Park rangers suggest the trash is in turn driving an increase in rats, cockroaches and other vermin. Parks Officer Craig Burt said the redrawn Parks Act is currently in front of the Attorney General, where it is being "fine tuned" before it goes before cabinet.

    Mr. Burt said that the new powers were necessary because at present, even when police or rangers catch someone dumping trash they are very rarely prosecuted. He said: "Even when we get lucky and we stand there watching a truck dumping industrial waste, or a van dumping a bed frame and a washing machine, we get the number plate, we take the individual to court and the judge gives a conditional discharge.

    "There is a feeling in the police that chasing this type of crime is not worth the paperwork or the manpower. But it's not a victimless crime. We all suffer. We all have to live in this environment." Mr. Burt said that he and his rangers spend days cleaning up a beach or green space, only to go back the next day and find it trashed again.

    Mr. Burt said that part of the problem was cultural. He said: "Some people seem to think: 'If I drop this then it's keeping someone in a job'. But even if I had unlimited resources we couldn't possibly keep up."

    Environment Permanent Secretary Kevin Monkman said of the new spot-fines: "This is something we have all ready to go in front of Cabinet. The officers [with the power to hand out spot-fines] will act a little like traffic wardens. They will patrol and where an offence has been committed will hand out a ticket, just like a parking ticket.

    "We think this will streamline the process. It is something that has proved very successful in parts of the U.S. and in Australian national parks."

    Richie Lathan, of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, welcomed the proposals. He said: "For a long, long time we have been fighting a losing battle. We live in this beautiful place and it has always amazed me that so many people cannot be bothered to drive to the dump.

    "A large part of the problem is that it is such a struggle to get a conviction. We have been saying for a long time that park rangers and other public officers - the ones on the front line - should have more power to help the police."

  21. This poster and many like him/her is why we cant seem to get ahead with anything in Anguilla. Such negativity is what’s choking our progress. We appear to be so afriad to step out into new areas and we always cite finances. Most plans are worked out in the discussion phase far before we get to the matter of finances. We must first figure out a plan of action then work on the method of execution, however if we exclude it in its infancy then how in God name will we ever arrive at a solution? We need to stop being so negative and think outside the box. When ideas are presented we can brainstorm the methods of execution. I am sure we can present some form of incentives or compromises to get what we seek without selling ourselves or the environment short. Yes everything operates on an expense budget but there are ways to offset these if we earnestly search for them. Creativity is the key and we have to use our brillant young minds to help us for these old farts like the previous poster appear to be locked in his/her own world and is afraid think about solution but not bashful to post here and put down other people's ideas. Money is relative if we hit on the right combination of programs and incentives to make our plans workable. If we all were to get involved and share our views perhaps we can use something from each other's input to develop a master plans that will be benificial to Anguilla and all who live here.


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