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Under fire

Torika Chandra
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ENVI-Green Pacific Consultants have refuted claims by residents and environmental groups that Pacific Building Solutions (PBS) was not transparent when it sought an environmental impact assessment on Lot 1 Waibola, in Wailekutu, Lami.

The Fiji Environmental Law Association, residents of Waibola and other groups have criticised the EIA saying there was a lack of transparency and public consultation given the proposed size of the development project and the conservation value of Draunibota Bay.

Environment consultant Dr Paulo Vanualailai, the man who conducted the EIA, said PBS did not fully understand the processes they had to follow when it sought the EIA.

"I don't agree that PBS is being less transparent. In fact, it was a confusion of the processes to get their land rezoned from residential to commercial property," Dr Vanualailai said.

"The reason public awareness was not carried out is because during the time of assessment, from April to May 2011, detail engineering plans and civil engineering works were not yet in place."

Dr Vanualailai said only an artist's impression was given in the earlier plan, which was why he did not hold a public consultation.

"I specifically held on to the public awareness because of lack of information. I didn't know that a scheme plan was yet to be drafted, let alone the detail civil engineering works.

"I submitted the original EIA on the basis that upon receiving the final plans of the scheme plan and detail civil engineering plan, then I shall carry out the public awareness program."

"It was for this reason that only a conditional approval was given for the Waibola EIA by the director of environment.

"That is why PBS went back to the drawing board to correct its processes. That is where we are right now."

PBS has refused further comments on Waibola.

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