EMA welcomes PM’s hint of amendments to law

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A screen grab of a 2021 video showing the planned $500 million Marriott development for Rocky Point, Tobago. –

THE Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has welcomed hints by the Prime Minister about the law which governs the authority being amended to improve its efficiency.

At a post-Cabinet news conference at Whitehall on June 13, Dr Rowley objected to people using the act to obstruct the construction of a proposed $500 million Marriott hotel at Rocky Point, Tobago.

“Everybody in this country knows we use the EMA not to help us in our development, but to obstruct our development.”

Rowley hinted at the possibility of the Environmental Management (EM) Act being revisited in light of this.

In a statement on Friday, the EMA welcomed Rowley’s statement that after three decades, amendments to the EMA Act were necessary.

“These amendments should serve to facilitate sustainable development in the rapidly changing environment due to climate change and technology particularly.”

The authority was established by act of Parliament in March 1995. This act was later repealed and re-enacted as the Environmental Management Act of 2000 with majority approval of the Parliament.

The EMA said one of its roles was to ensure public awareness on developmental projects that have potential impacts on the environment.

“These include developments such as poultry depots, to more complex developments such as industrial sites and hotels.

“The consultation process enshrined in the EM Act gives all stakeholders the opportunity to express their views on proposed developments. This consultative process is important to ensure that threats to human health and the environment are considered and mitigated as far as possible.”

On the Rocky Point certificate of environmental clearance application, the authority said it had determined that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was required and a final terms of reference (TOR) had been issued for the conduct of the EIA.

“Upon completion of the EIA report, the EMA and its valued stakeholders will have the opportunity to thoroughly review the contents thereof. The EMA acknowledges that several opinions have already been expressed and these will be considered as part of the determination process.”

Environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh disagreed with Rowley that amendments might be needed to the EM Act.

“I think that the Prime Minister is wrong. The EMA was fashioned to suit the needs of the State to do, as unchallenged as possible heavy development.”

Kublalsingh believed the solution lay in the EMA better enforcing its existing regulations rather than the law governing the authority being changed.

“The EMA needs better people to manage it. Non-partisan people. Independent people. People who can take very strong stance.”

Referring to the proposed Alutrint smelter which was never constructed before the May 24, 2010 general election, Kublalsingh said the EMA made a fundamental error.

“They did not ensure there was a proper disposal for the spent pot lining (from the smelter) and the court therefore ruled that the certificate (CEC) was invalid.”

Justice Mira Dean-Armorer quashed that CEC in 2009.

Kublalsingh described the EMA as “a toothless bulldog.”