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Waibola action

Torika Chandra
Friday, July 25, 2014

RESIDENTS along Waibola in Lami believe that if portions of the Waibola Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report sought by Pacific Building Solutions (PBS) were approved, it did not cover the aspects of the current application for rezoning to heavy industrial.

These comments come after acting director Environment Department Eleni Tokaduadua confirmed yesterday that an application to reclass Waibola from residential to industrial was still going ahead despite part of the EIA being rejected initially.

She confirmed the Waibola EIA was approved only for the 3.5 acres of freehold land owned by PBS and not the total 36 acres surveyed under the EIA.

PBS intends to build its headquarters on the Waibola site but they are facing opposition from those who say that development will be detrimental to the environment.

Tim Howick-Smith, a resident of Waibola, said the EIA needed to be redone because of the critical impact of the rezoning.

"It would seem critical that any decision related to the approval (prior provisional or final) of the rezoning of the Waibola site be withheld pending the completion of an entirely fresh, comprehensive, transparent, and participatory EIA," Mr Howick-Smith said.

The Department of Environment also confirmed that the future development - phases two and three - proposed in the EIA study would not be considered until consent was received from appropriate approving authorities.

Dr Randy Thaman, professor of Pacific Islands Biogeography at USP, said the conditionally approved EIA was good news.

He said it showed that government was taking the EIA and Town and Country planning processes seriously.

"They are beginning to realise what sensitive and important places the Southeast and South coasts of Viti Levu are to villages, residential areas, our main tourism locations, one of our most important and productive reef and mangrove systems and to commercial and subsistence fishers who have depended on this area for millennia."

PBS public relations manager Ana Coogen Whippy said the company would make no further comments on Waibola.

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