The passage of the Rules came as a complete surprise to Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) after decades of lobbying for this Rule (which is a critical component of the Env Man. Act, and fundamental to the E.M.Authority function!). For more than three months there was no announcement by the Ministry of the Environment or even the EMA. Why? Yesterday the EMA for the first time announced that the Air Pollution Rules were Law, and that they would be enforcing this new law immediately, (that is, three months after it was passed). Should any Government have the authority to pass a law, and then to simply allow it to secretly lay idle for months?
Despite our government’s assurances of its “people centred approach” to decision making, why was there no public consultation whatsoever on the Rules prior to it being laid in Parliament. Ten years ago when a previous version of the Rules had been developed there was extensive consultation carried out by the previous government. Without consultation and transparency our citizens are being abandoned to the known self interests/vagaries of a powerful industry lobby (for private purpose).
The Air Pollution Rules are law and require air polluters to apply for an air pollution permit.
The permit classifies polluters into categories which are not based on contaminant discharge, but are illogically based on the number of employees, profits and value of assets.
As such, businesses (with more than 50 employees, more than $5 million in assets and more than $10 million in sales per annum) will have to pay the sum of $50,000 per year to pollute our air. However, the chemical company which is 100 times larger, and which pollutes 1,000 times more toxic, still pays the same exact fee. Is that good public administration?
Is this administration respecting the judgment of Justice Rampersad and the entire judicial system?
The National Environment Policy speaks clearly of the Polluter Pay Principle, (which is the more you pollute, the more you pay.)
The High Court judgment and common sense beg the question, shouldn’t a larger contaminator pay more than a lesser?
Our initial research shows that there is no other country on planet earth that uses a similar system to what has been passed secretly, unopposed, here, the closest being India which uses a mix of economic factors and the amount of pollution being discharged.
In the US, the system is based on the amount of pollution generated. Who are the responsible consultants and who is the Minister and Cabinet who supports this conduct?
Over eight years ago, FFOS challenged the Water Pollution Rules in the High Court on the principle as a reasonable and criticall component which needed to be observed. FFOS obtained a overwhelmingly successful ruling, and all costs. In his 28-page judgment (http://webopac.ttlawcourts.org/LibraryJud/Judgments/HC/rampersad/2008/cv_08_04593DD18oct2012.pdf) Justice Rampersad ruled that the methodology of employing a flat fee or fixed fee structure and or system which was used by the defendant for the calculation of annual permit fees under the Water Pollution (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 was illegal. and or, ultra vires.
He also quashed the EMA’s authority to use the fixed or flat fee and issue an order of mandamus compelling the EMA to properly use and apply the polluter pay principle, and has stopped the EMA from any continued implementation of this fee.
Sadly, this Government preferred to appeal the matter (where it is now before the Appeal Court,) rather than abide by the High Court Judgment.
Despite our overwhelming success in the High Court, our Government has blatantly ignored that judgment and has now developed and secretly passed these new Air Pollution Rules, which disregard the High Court Judgment. FFOS awaits the judgment of the esteemed Court of Appeal which will certainly bring clarity as to how these fees should be calculated.
The new Air Pollution Rules is the same ole story: the rich get richer by cheaply polluting our air, contaminating our lungs, and poisoning the lives of the vulnerable and voiceless communities.
FFOS is being summoned, and sadly, we feel we are fighting against a tidal wave of self serving and culpable hypocrites.
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, FFOS.