A local environment conservation body said the recent passing of a suite of environmental bills in Parliament marks a significant change in how the nation looks at the environment and signals a positive step toward a better, greener future.
In welcoming the bills, Bahamas National Trust (BNT) Executive Director Eric Carey said the “bold, legislative step” sent a signal to the world.
“At a time when the vulnerability of the global environment is at stake, the country is now sending a signal to the entire world that we intend to be responsible stewards of our most precious resource,” he said.
Earlier this month, Parliament passed the Ministry of the Environment Bill, the Environmental Planning and Protection Bill, the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic
Pollution) Bill, amendments to the Bahamas National Trust Bill, the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund (Amendment) Bill and the Tariff Amendment (No. 2) Bill.
Among other things, the bills provide for offenders in contravention of the law to face penalties of up to $30 million and 10 years in prison and requires 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 allows 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 park wardens to enforce the by-laws in national parks,” BNT noted.
“The amendment also provides for park wardens to be able to issue fines and 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.”