The Ministry of the Environment and Housing is hoping to have a suite of environmental bills tabled in the House of Assembly before the end of this year that would allow the government to impose fines for acts in contravention of environmental laws.
Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira said the ministry was hoping the environmental bills would be on the first agenda at the opening of the new parliamentary year next month, but said given circumstances as a result of Hurricane Dorian, it’s likely the bills would be pushed back.
“The attorney general promised some time back a suite of environmental legislation and he has delivered a lot of them in draft that we are reviewing,” Ferreira said on Friday.
“One of the two fundamental things we want to do in addition to the plastics legislation is to amend the Bahamas National Trust Act, amend the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund Act, we want to introduce an act to establish the Ministry of the Environment, which is very important, and we also want to introduce an act to establish the department of planning and protection, which is also very important.”
Ferreira said these new bills will take The Bahamas down the road of better environmental stewardship and give the government the ability to levy the kinds of fines proportionate with the sort of environmental infringement that may occur.
The fines would go into the Consolidated Fund.
“So that goes to the environmental justice point because environmental justice outside some of the social contexts we talk about is also a legal issue. So we have to build a legal framework on which to act,” he said.
“One of the features in the legislation that we propose is the fact that there would be a corporation sole account within the Ministry of the Environment which would allow us a little more flexibility in responding to environmental issues and making sure the money goes where it can best be utilized.”
Ferreira was speaking at a press conference to announce the government’s adoption of a climate crisis declaration that was drafted by the Cat Island Conservation Institute.
Last month the government released the draft Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019 for public consultation.
The government has indicated that it plans to ban certain single-use plastics by the beginning of 2020.