by Curlan Campbell
- Large-scale coastal area investment creates tension over environmental impact
- Public outcry over CBI-approved hotel developments in Mt Hartman, La Sagesse and Levera
- Low government CBI processing fees do not take into account constant project oversight costs
Grenada is known to have one of the most cost-effective Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes in the world. Any developer desirous of investing on the island can qualify by paying US$350,000 or more together with a government processing fee of $1,500 per person, to have their project approved. According to the Land Development Control (fees) Regulations, commercial development projects more than 2,500 square feet pay a government processing fee of $3,500. These fees payable to the Government of Grenada under the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme are said to be too low and do not take into account constant oversight of the project to ensure that the natural environment is not significantly compromised.
The environmental impact of such large-scale investment especially around coastal areas, continues to create tension between developers and environmentalist and concerned citizens. Environmental groups have taken serious issue with regards to public consultations and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) transparency.
Nichole N Gellineau, UK trained Environmental Legal, Human Resource, and EIA Practitioner, believes budget for the oversight of CBI approved projects by the Physical Development Authority (PDA) should be solely borne by the developers. “If they are investing $100,000,000 into a project, then in my opinion, a percentage of that fee should be set aside for oversight; meaning that if the Physical Development Authority has to employ additional people or contractors to periodically visit the site to make sure that oversight is being done, then that cost should not be the burden of the Grenadian people. That cost should be passed on to the developer.”
Additionally the International Law & Sustainable Development expert also recommended that a fund be established in the event that government has to take legal action against any developer especially with regards to any developmental project which requires Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Her recommendations come on the heels of recent public outcry over the establishment of 3 CBI-approved hotel developments in the area of Mt Hartman, La Sagesse and Levera.
Gellineau pointed to the neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago as having arguably, the most advanced environmental legislation in the region. She referred to the establishment of Trinidad and Tobago’s Environmental Commission which ensures the development of environmental jurisprudence and that the country’s environmental assets are managed effectively and with consideration for future sustainability.
Mention was made of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly referred to as Superfund, which was enacted by the US Congress on 11 December 1980. This oversight body administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for investigating and dealing with contaminants that are hazardous to the environment. Furthermore, under the law, chemical and petroleum industries are heavily taxed and once found liable for environmental pollution, are forced to either perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-led cleanup work according to their official website.
Gellineau is of the view that Grenada can follow suit with this type of structure to safeguard the country’s environment assets.