The chairwoman of the National Conservation Council has resigned from the position amid increasing uncertainty about the future of the environmental law.
Christine Rose-Smyth confirmed she had stepped down from the position, citing personal issues that were standing in the way of her continuing on the council.
She did not directly reference the turmoil over the law, which government has pledged to revise amid concerns from developers and government ministries that it gives too much power to the council over development applications.
Premier Alden McLaughlin announced in his budget address that a committee would be set up to review the law.
Ms. Rose-Smyth said she was not stepping back completely and would be willing to serve on any review committee, if asked.
She said she was proud of the work the council had done.
“It was an honor to be asked to chair the first council,” she said. “I can say that serving as chair for the first three years of the council has involved an enormous amount of commitment, time and expertise and I am very glad to have been able to give my input to the council and help to implement a totally new law for the country. I hope that is a foundation that is going to be built on in the future and not undermined.
“I am extremely grateful to the other voluntary members of the council and to the staff of the Department of Environment for their dedication to achieving the goals of the National Conservation Law. I remain committed to ensuring that preservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources continue to hold positions at the forefront of policy making for the benefit of all the citizens of these Islands.”
Ms. Rose-Smyth’s resignation was submitted in September and effective from mid-October at the close of the last council meeting, but has not been announced publicly, and no decision has been announced on who her successor will be.
The National Conservation Council is facing issues with funding as well as political opposition to some aspects of the law.
Ms. Rose-Smyth revealed at the October meeting of the council that it had been unable to get a meeting with new Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour since the election in May.
Shortly after that meeting, Premier McLaughlin spoke out against the aspect of the law that gives the council power to request environmental impact assessments before making a recommendation on major development applications, and promised a review of the legislation.
Government’s two-year budget also contained no money for land purchases for national protected areas – one of the key projects the council has been involved with since inception.