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Saturday 20 January 2018

FFOS takes Govt to Privy Council

ENVIRONMENTAL lobby group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) has been granted leave to challenge an appeal court judgment on the standardised water pollution fee for small and large polluters.

In a statement, FFOS said polluters should bear the cost of cleaning up their pollution and it was unreasonable for small entities to pay the same fee as larger companies.

The group has been granted leave to take their challenge to the London Privy Council where they will be asking the Judicial Committee to clarify the meaning and application of the polluter pay principle.

“The local court of appeal last July overturned a ruling of the High Court which in 2012, ordered the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) not to implement the Water Pollution (Fees) Amendment Regulations 2006, until the internationally recognised ‘polluter pays’ principle is properly applied in calculating and fixing such fees.

The EMA in challenging the High Court’s decision in the Appeal Court claimed it was acting in the public’s best interest. FFOS is seeking to overturn the Appeal Court’s decision.

“The ‘polluter pays’ principle is one of the fundamental environmental principles in Trinidad and Tobago. It simply means that a polluter must pay the cost of the pollution.

“FFOS is advocating that if polluters release pollution into the environment, they should bear the cost of cleaning up said pollution,” the lobby group said in a statement.

It also noted that under the present law, large industrial or petrochemical polluters requiring a water pollution permit from the EMA pay the same annual permit fee as a small pig or cattle farmer with 20 plus animals, regardless of the quantity or toxicity of pollution.

“The fee is a fixed $10,000 a year. The value was set at $10,000, as this is the EMA’s cost of administering the water pollution permit.

“This means that it is the taxpayer who ultimately bears the burden of the pollution,” FFOS said.

The Water Pollution (Fees) Amendment Regulations 2006, required polluters to pay a fixed annual permit fee of $10,000, regardless of size. Justice Devindra Rampersad in his ruling in October 2012, found the Water Pollution (Fees) Amendment Regulations, 2006, to be illegal and beyond the legal authority of the Environmental Management Act and the National Environmental


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