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OBA: Government is failing to protect Pembroke residents

Susan Jackson, of the One Bermuda Alliance (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Opposition has criticised the Government for failing to update Bermuda’s clean air legislation quickly as residents continue to be affected by emissions from Belco.

The Clean Air Regulations 1993 and Clean Air Act 1991 are due to be amended to bring Bermuda’s regulations in line with the UK’s Air Quality Standard.

If passed, this means that excess emissions of chemical compounds such as sulphur dioxide that have been reported by the energy firm will no longer be permitted under Bermuda law.

Local MP Susan Jackson, who recently met senior Belco officials on the issue, accompanied by Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs and Home Affairs, said: “Work overtime, call a special session of parliament, do whatever is necessary to stop the pollution scarring our precious environment and threatening the lives of the people who elected us to protect them.

“Deputy Leader and Minister of Home Affairs, Walter Roban, has spent tens of thousands of taxpayers' dollars travelling the world to learn and advocate for climate change and environmental protections. Yet this ministry and the Regulatory Authority have been dragging their heels to table amended Clean Air legislation and regulations to stop this madness.

“There has got to be expertise in the room to determine a way forward. The Regulatory Authority may have to think outside the box at alternate solutions or medium-term work- around solutions. Bermuda can't be the only island jurisdiction with similar geographical challenges.

“Concerned residents and the broader community are not looking for an immediate ideal long-term solution, we just need some relief and that may mean government, the RA and Belco may need to compromise on a workaround until a more permanent and environmentally sustainable solution can be agreed and implemented.”

Mr Roban hit back at the criticism last night, and accused the One Bermuda Alliance of having no track record protecting constituents.

He said: “It is easy for the Opposition to make dramatic statements when they have no track record on protecting the residents around industrial impacts and environmental concerns.”

A Government spokesman added: “The impact of the North Power Station on the residents of the area is unacceptable and the Minister has repeatedly said so.

“Nothing is more important than the health and welfare of Bermuda’s people and so the new clean air legislation will be tougher, require higher standards of safety and will include strong penalties where those standards are not met.”

The OBA’s criticism comes days after Mr Roban was spotlighted by his Cabinet colleague Jason Hayward, a local MP and the economy and labour minister, last Friday in the House of Assembly.

Mr Hayward said he had approached Mr Roban, the Regulatory Authority and Wayne Caines, his fellow PLP MP and Belco’s president to get help for his constituents but had been unsuccessful.

Mr Hayward told fellow MPs: "When you can't rely on your water to get a bath or drink because you don't know if it safe; when residents have lost loved ones from cancer and they can link it to the power plant, there needs to be a change.

"They are fed up, and I, as the area MP, am fed up. It is simply unacceptable what those individuals are experiencing.“

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Published February 11, 2023 at 7:51 am (Updated February 11, 2023 at 7:51 am)

OBA: Government is failing to protect Pembroke residents

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