Press Release: BNT Welcomes New Environmental Legislation
The Bahamas National Trust welcomes the passing of environmental bills in Parliament in the past week, coming at a time when “the global environment is at stake”. We congratulate Environment and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira, and the government for this bold, progressive legislative step.
Executive Director of the Bahamas National Trust Eric Carey said that the passing of the series of bills sent a signal to the world.
He said: “At a time when the vulnerability of the global environment is at stake, the country is now sending a signal to the entire world – current and future partners of the industry – that we intend to be responsible stewards of our most precious resource.”
The suite of bills includes the Ministry of the Environment Bill, the Environmental Planning and Protection Bill, the Environmental Protection (Plastic Pollution Bill), amendments to the Bahamas National Trust Bill, the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund (Amendment) Bill and the Tariff Amendment (No2) Bill.
Along with a dramatic increase in fines for environmental offenders, the bills also provide for greater transparency in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), as well as the establishment of an Environmental Trust Fund to allow The Bahamas to take advantage of grant opportunities.
The amendments to the Bahamas National Trust Act will correct an error in the 2010 Bill that to allow for a formula to be created by the BNT Council, to elect the statutory number of Council members. The formula will also allow for the establishment of set term limits for Council members. The amendment will also clarify and enhance the powers of our park wardens’ powers to enforce the bye-laws in national parks. The amendment also provides for park wardens to be able to issue fines adds an on-the-spot power to take action, meaning that a problem can be remedied right away rather than weeks later. Before this amendment, any offender, even if the offense is minor, would have to be taken to the nearest police station, which could be 70-100 miles away. The offender would have to then be charged, and processed through the court system, in a very lengthy and involved process. This amendment allows our wardens to issue a fine on the spot, deal with it and move on.
The BNT feels that taken together, these bills mark a significant change in how we look at our environment – it is a positive step towards a better, greener future.