A meeting of the Environment & Natural Resources Committee took place on Thursday, 15 March 2018, in the Council Chamber.
Members were introduced to the new Head of Property, Derek Pedley. Derek, who is appointed on a three-year contract, has a fair amount of work earmarked for him around imminent issues including crown estates, housing and land. Although Derek has vast experience in other fields, it will be his legal background that will be essential as the Directorate addresses a positive way of moving forward in resolving current issues.
Environmental Risk Manager, Mike Durnford, gave an update on Horse Point Landfill Site (HPLS). Members commended the positive feedback that was received on the operating hours of Horse Point. ENRC has now taken the decision for HPLS to be open to the public 24/7, including Public Holidays, but with the caveat that any public safety concerns or negative impacts caused by the public may result in this decision being revoked and opening/closing times re-imposed.
Committee members raised concerns (brought to their attention by visiting tourists) about the volume of litter around the Island, which seemingly goes unnoticed by St Helena’s community. Despite an increase in ‘Please Do Not Litter’ signage put in place by Waste Management Services, the Committee considered that further litter campaigns may assist to raise awareness of this recurring issue. The Committee also considered that Part 10 – Litter, of the Environmental Protection Ordinance (EPO), needs to be used by enforcement authorities to deter the unnecessary littering that takes place. The Waste Management Strategy was discussed and from this it was decided that a new policy be implemented, as it is the policy that provides guidance to Legislative Council members to allow them to make decisions on the strategy already in place.
Isabel Peters and Vanessa Williams then gave a presentation on the Policy for Plant Propagation, the collection and distribution of Endemic & Native plants. This would allow native plants to be exported from the Island but would see protection enforced under section 21 of the EPO to safeguard the Island’s endemics. This would give recognition to the 45 endemic species that the Directorate have registered on-Island and allow for exportation of endemic plants for scientific uses only to registered gardens or centres such as Kew Gardens.
The Commercial Vehicle Parking Survey for Jamestown was discussed where Councillor Dr Corinda Essex explained that in order to complete the parking policy for Jamestown, a review must be made of the commercial vehicles that are used in Jamestown. This would enable the Directorate to work with the Highways Authority in locating a possible area where these commercial vehicles can be parked so as not to cause issues with other vehicle users within the Jamestown area. These questioner/survey papers will be passed onto the operators/owners of commercial vehicles in Jamestown in due course.
The final item on the agenda was the presentation of the Draft Building Regulations 2018 by the Head of Planning & Building Control Division, Riana de Wet. She explained that the current Regulations are some 17 years old and therefore deemed out-dated and in need of revision. The technical review and framework for the new draft Regulations was undertaken by a Technical Working Group within the Environment & Natural Resources Directorate (ENRD) consisting of primarily the Building Inspectors, Nico Ellick and Cliff Richards, supported by the Island Engineer, Chris Peters, Technical Services, Julian Benjamin, Property Section, Theron Henry, and Planning Division. Key input was also obtained from specific stakeholders such as the Fire & Rescue Service, Connect Saint Helena Ltd as Utility Service Providers, amongst others. Most sections within the Regulations were hugely improved by means of clearer definition and elaboration with certain sections added which were originally omitted from the current Regulations thus currently creating grey areas and uncertainty. The new Regulations aim to step up the standard of building works on-Island however taking cognisance of aspects such as material and expertise available on-Island, It is considered to be much more user friendly, specifically due to the addition of a number of information tables as well as illustrations to assist both the Inspectors as well as Builders in their interpretation of the Regulations. The new draft will be presented to Elected Members for their perusal and endorsement prior to embarking on a formal public consultation process.
The Chairman reported that the Draft Road Traffic Regulations is progressing well and a copy will be circulated shortly once the final schedules are completed. However, some new application forms for drivers and vehicle licences etc still need to be finalised.
The minutes from the previous meeting were approved along with the financial briefing.
In the Director’s report, members were notified that the Anaerobic Digester would not be applicable for the Island as we would not be producing enough waste to make this project viable. It was noted that it might be possible to look at two smaller projects working directly with the Piggeries on-Island.
There are ongoing concept discussions between ESH and ENRD on the current housing issue. ENRD anticipate that some decisions will be made soon that would allow some sort of movement to be made surrounding the use of the current CDAs at HTH and Bottom Woods.
There being no other urgent business, the meeting closed at 1.50pm.
21 March 2018