By Donald De Riggs
An organized group called the North Leeward Heritage Preservation Front staged a public rally at Fitzhughes on Saturday, October 01, 2022, to protest government’s decision to allow quarry operations to commence at Richmond in the absence of environmental and social impact assessment studies, before a project of this magnitude and duration can legally proceed. Also objecting to the project is the SVG Conservation Fund who wrote the Central Planning division since November 2021, outlining scientific reasons why the project should not go ahead at that location.
The group is spearheaded by teacher and preacher Adonis Charles who during his address pointed out to several breaches of standard procedures required for projects like this and lack of appropriate environmental and social impact studies as well as the lack of consultations with North Leeward residents prior to the commencement of the project. He said that this amounted to the callous disregard and disrespect for the people of North Leeward (NL) who will be negatively affected by the fall out from the quarry operations. See IWN for video clips of these addresses.
The list of persons addressing the attentive audience included social activist Troy Prince, Clive “Ras Bish-I” Bishop, Patel Matthews, Donald De Riggs, Adonis Charles and West Kingstown MP Daniel Cummings. Prince set the stage for the rally with a stirring address outlining the negative impact of the quarry to residents nearby, while ‘Bish-I’ provided an agricultural and scientific profile of the quarry site and why it was not suited for that location. De Riggs spoke about the disregard and disrespect to agricultural investors in close proximity of the proposed quarry and called for an injunction to be filed in the courts to stop the quarry operations until the necessary environmental and social impact studies are done by independent professionals, with the findings of these studies discussed with the residents of North Leeward and investors.
Speaking in a professional capacity was MP for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings. As a civil engineer he outlined the dangers of blasting close to residential areas, as well as the airborne dust and water borne sediment the quarry will generate, and with a school and clinic less than half a mile away, the hazards outweigh the benefits by far. Official records show that there are more than 70 persons in NL who suffer from asthma who have to be nebulized at the Chateaubelair clinic; the nearby quarry will certainly make the situation worse.
All the speakers noted that as civic minded nationals, we need development, especially in agriculture, but not one sided development, where some benefit financially, when at the end of the proposed 30 year lease, the environment would be stripped and of little value, to the detriment of our health, agriculture and other livelihoods including fishing and tri tri harvesting . Also to be impacted negatively will be the living reef below Cavali Rock which is a dive site for both tourists and locals. Water borne sediment from the quarry will kill the reef, chase the fish and impair visibility for divers, severely impacting the seine, line and spear fishing industry in that area. To a fish, muddy water is like walking in the open air in a thick cloud of falling volcanic ash without a dust mask on. No fish will stick around in those conditions.
It is the intention of the group to file a court injunction to stop the quarry operations based on the refusal of the government to produce the relevant environmental/social impact and marine studies by independent consultants, which is contrary to due process, and their disregard to the residents of North Leeward by neglecting to hold discussions with persons and businesses who will be adversely/directly affected by the quarry operations. The closing activity was a video presentation of drone footage of the proposed quarry site showing the environmental damage done so far. Earlier this year a farmer was almost hit by a boulder (big stone) that came crashing through his tomato cultivar by tractors excavating the area above his farm.