I write in response to the letter in the Stabroek News of Thursday, March 12, 2009 captioned ‘Perhaps the Environmental Protection Agency mandate is too limited,’ written by Mr Tony Rampersaud.
The mandate of the Environmental Protection Agency is clearly stated in the Environmental Protection Act, No. 11 of 1996 and the accompanying Regulations of 2000. We wish to advise Mr Rampersaud to visit our website at www.epaguyana.org and familiarize himself with and be more informed about our legislation. Section 4(1) of the act outline the functions of the agency which reveal that the agency’s role is regulatory in nature and the environmental protection legislation is never intended to be in conflict with other legislation. The agency’s mandate is not meant to usurp the roles and functions of other organizations regarding proceedings and remedies. Many complaints received by the agency do not fall exclusively under the jurisdiction of the agency, and as such interventions from other regulatory bodies would be required to resolve the complaints.
While we have investigated the noise nuisance matter regarding the operation of a generator at Albion, Corentyne, Berbice and deemed the complaint to be valid and are dealing with it through some interim mitigation measures in accordance with our legislation, the fundamental issue is whether permission has been granted or will be granted for the location and operation of the generator in the particular area. We wish to remind the complainants and Mr Rampersaud that they should in addition to the efforts made by the EPA pursue the matter at the levels of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council and the Central Housing and Planning Authority, given their mandates. Section 49 of the act makes provisions for:
1. “Nothing in this Act shall prevent the prosecution of any person for an offence under any other law; and
2. “No civil remedy for an act or omission is suspended or affected by reason only that the act or omission is an offence under this Act and nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to repeal, remove or reduce any remedy available to any person under any other law.”
In addition we would also like to remind the public of the provisions of Section 48 (1) of the act which allows for civil proceedings which could be pursued by “Any person who has suffered loss or damage as a result of the commission by any other person of any offence under this Act or any conduct that is contrary to this Act or the Regulations.”
Finally, if the environmental protection legislation were to be examined carefully, it could easily be seen that it is detailed, relevant and quite appropriate for the purpose for which it is intended.