Environmental Protection Department a sleeping giant
Fri, 10/14/2016 - 12:00am
By Regina Selman Moore
In Barbados, we have an organisation called the Environmental Protection Department (EPD). The mission statement of EPD suggests that the organisation is concerned with the promotion of sustainable environmental practices.
The EPD responsibilities extend to the realm of air pollution, where the Department notes that its role is “to recognise, evaluate and control air pollution”. To achieve this, the EPD has established an Air and Noise Pollution Control Section, which performs investigations into complaints about poor indoor and ambient air quality, as well as noise pollution complaints.
The organisation is also concerned on a whole with regulation, controlling and monitoring environmental practices. In fact, it should be noted that the Department is the environmental monitoring and pollution control department of the Government of Barbados, namely the Ministry of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage.
“The Environmental Protection Department will seek to promote sustainable practices through control, regulation and enforcement. In so doing, the Department will enable future generations to inherit an environment which is healthy, productive and enjoyable,” the EPD’s mission statement reads.
Further to this, the Department’s responsibilities are outlined as follows: “The Department is responsible for the monitoring and control of conditions likely to affect the quality of land, air and water and the general health and environmental well-being of the inhabitants of Barbados. Its functions are exercised throughout the entire island.”
Now I am not sure if all this has changed to date, from the information gathered previously. But we get an idea of the Department’s roles and responsibilities. So let me get to the meat of the matter. I really want to know what weight the EPD really carries in Barbados. I can tell you that information gathered on the EPD, lays out quite nicely the roles and responsibilities of the Department, but when it comes to the Department’s enforcement arm, I really do have some questions I need answered, because it would appear that the EPD is a sleeping giant.
Honestly, I understand that Rome was not built in a day and that some environmental issues need to be addressed on a phased basis. However, the EPD needs to look into cases which see individuals setting up auto body shops in the midst of residential neighbourhoods without the appropriate facilities being set up to capture the fumes that emit from these “open spaces”, in some instances.
I will not even touch the issue of indiscriminate burning of refuse in the open, because I know for a fact that I would be wasting my time, hoping that any organisation can address this problem without the necessary legislation being put in place to allow for the enforcement arm to work.
There are other pressing environmental issues which need to be looked into as soon as possible, such as thick, black exhaust fumes from vehicles, and noise pollution. While it will take some time for these problems to be rectified, the least officials can do is come out and speak to the issues.
Again, I reiterate that the Environmental Protection Department is a sleeping giant that needs to be roused from its slumber. There are too many pressing environmental issues that need to be addressed, for this giant to sleep on.