In addressing utterances that have surfaced regarding environmental concerns, not only did the Prime Minister give the assurance that his administration is committed to sustainable development and the protection and management of the environment, but he served notice on the “fundamentalists” and those bent on narrow interests over the universal good. In explaining the stance to be taken, the national leader suggested that there are “some” believing that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was never done regarding the project. He made it abundantly clear that such persons ought to “liberate [their] minds of that fallacy, because an EIA was done as far back as 1997. Furthermore, a local individual is currently upgrading and updating that study for a clear pathway to proceed.
Drawing on a utilitarian approach, the Honourable Gaston Browne advised that those with the “fundamentalist ideologies” and those roughing up the seas “must be balanced.” He stated unequivocally that: “We respect the views of all individuals even the views of the ignorant, but I want to make it abundantly clear, that individuals especially small minority groups with fundamentalist ideals, those cannot take precedence over the overall good of the country. He was adamant that his administration will listen and will go ahead on its projects with consensus without having to be lectured to by doubters. The Prime Minister said: “My Government does not need to be schooled on the problems of the environment” because “there is no other government in the past that would have invested more in the protection of the environment than this present administration.” No doubt, this statement drew much support and applause.
PM Browne provided recent “tangible examples” to strengthen his contention. He spoke to the strengthening of the legislative framework through the passing of the new Energy Act and the new Environmental Protection and management Act. In addition he told the audience that the Government has provided “$20 million to acquire 10 megs of solar energy for the country,” and has also “committed in excess of $1.1 million per month from the CIP funds to keep this country clean, in addition, to what has been appropriated in the budget.” The Prime Minister did encourage the developers to maintain the “pristine” setting while stating that his administration “pursues development in a responsible manner to ensure that all developments are done on a sustainable basis.” He would have also touched on the need to “plant trees as a zero-hungry programme,” so that those now imperilled by plight of poverty would not revert or choose the option of “robbing or other criminal activities that lead to jail time.” All in all, the Prime Minister was elated at the synergies and successful partnerships that will bear ripe fruit for Antigua and Barbuda thereby positioning the country to become the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean. According to PM Browne, these projects are indicative of the “plethora of investments” that can and will change the social, economic, and physical character of the nation.