Say No to Cahill by Frances Chandler

Last week  both Houses of Parliament extolled the virtues of agitation ad nauseum.  We heard  the words educate, agitate but don’t violate over and over in relation to the  National Day of Significance. But ironically, nowadays , those  who peacefully  demonstrate  their dissatisfaction  have been  described as a mob and showered with disdain.

I agreed wholeheartedly with the march against the Solid Waste Tax  since it showed  that  Barbadians were at last taking note of what was happening  around them . Another  serious matter which I trust  they will be equally willing to vigorously demonstrate their dissatisfaction about, is the Cahill Waste to Energy plant. We must not allow concern over this  “cloak and dagger” operation  (metaphors seem to be fashionable these days )  and this dismissive treatment by government or  Cahill to be a nine days wonder.  Not only don’t we want  the plant in St Thomas, we don’t want it in Barbados period.

With apologies for using what might be considered a vulgar term, the whole affair seems to have been conducted “ass backward'” and reeks of irregularities . The disturbing facts disclosed by the Opposition Leader in the Budget Debate are not figments of her imagination . Just look at  the so-called private and confidential agreement which is now common knowledge.

How can you have a serious issue like this decided on and signed off by four members of parliament , apparently without the necessary authority,  before it’s taken to Cabinet  which is then  asked to rescind a previous  decision to go to tender for waste to energy facilities?  Cabinet  allegedly then agrees that the SSA should negotiate with  Cahill regarding the setting up and operating of the plant.

After all these decisions have been made, then the matter is put to the public in a Town Hall meeting. Isn’t this an insult to our intelligence? Furthermore, we hear statements like” the deal is expected to be closed in August ”  and “construction will start in September 2015”. What arrogance  when we haven’t heard of any Town Planning permission or the results of any Environmental Impact study. The whole agreement seems to be skewed in favour of Cahill and has no regard for the wellbeing of Barbadians, present or future.

In  my opinion, no Minister of government has the necessary qualifications to even understand the document. Certainly the Minister of the Environment ‘s  psychology degrees and  even the disputed theology degree wouldn’t help him much , but we’ll certainly need a lot of help from the Lord if this is allowed to happen. So can anyone tell me who  government’s  local advisors  in the matter are (and  if or how  they stand to benefit from this arrangement) ?  Is personal interest being put before the national interest?

We had the Greenland blunder , resulting from a total disregard of the opinions of knowledgeable  and experienced people. While that  blunder was a waste of money (albeit a drop in the ocean compared to the Cahill project), it did no permanent damage to our environment and could be changed into a wonderful eco-park tomorrow .

What is confusing is that the emphasis  of the waste to energy plant has changed from  waste disposal  to  energy production . Here again, as was noted at a recent meeting of the stakeholders in the energy sector, there needs to be one  public (not secret)  business plan  for the production of alternative energy, led by government (not Cahill) standing shoulder to shoulder with all stakeholders . I agree with BREA that the responsibility of identifying new alternative energy projects lies with the Ministry of Energy, not the Ministry of the Environment.

One of the benefits of the Cahill  project is supposed to be that the  ‘ target of using 29% of total energy as renewables will be achieved 10 years earlier.” If I’m not mistaken it was noted at the renewable energy meeting that the target of 29% had already been reached in 2015, making this statement totally nonsensical.

This country seems to be spinning out of control. I agree with the  moderator who  said  we need a  bipartisan strategic plan for all sectors. This should lead to cohesive/harmonious development rather than the chaos we’re continually being subjected to.  Of course we do in fact have a National Strategic Plan , but unfortunately this seems to change with change of government .

Dr. Frances Chandler is a former independent senator  E mail: fchandler@caribsurf.com

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About Andrew Stoute

Dr. Stoute obtained his PhD in Plant Biology from the University of Reading in 2009 working on photoperiodic control of flowering. He then took Post-Doctoral Researcher position at Rothamsted Research working on the developmental factors around parental regulation of seed size in oilseed rape (canola). He joined the staff of the West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station in 2011 as the Plant Geneticist, responsible for performing crosses from extensive germplasm collection to provide clients with improved sugarcane varieties. He also develops systems and programs to aid in the selection of the best parental material for those crosses.

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