Falklands : COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT THE LACK OF DEBATE IN ASSEMBLY
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 01.08.2013 (Article Archived on 29.08.2013)
(A Report for FIRS by Stacy Bragger) The Chairman of the Roles and Remuneration of MLAs Panel has written to members of legislative Assembly to express his concerns ...
COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT THE
LACK OF DEBATE IN ASSEMBLY
(A Report for
FIRS by Stacey Bragger)
The Chairman of the Roles and
Remuneration of MLAs Panel has written to members of legislative Assembly to
express his concerns about the lack of open debate on two recent issues. In the
letter Richard Cockwell says that in the second part of the panelís report on
the roles and remuneration of Assembly members they made strong reference to
open debate on strategy and policy decisions which, although effecting the
public, he says are frequently unable to understand the reasoning behind the
decisions nor are they able to ascertain how their elected representatives
stand on these decisions.
Mr Cockwell felt that there were a
number of policy decisions made within Executive Council last week that would
have benefited from airing and open debate to better inform the electorate as
to the reasoning behind these decisions.
He said these were the Falkland
Islands Hydrocarbons Development Policy and the statement of policy and
principles, port location and infrastructure.
MLA Ian Hansen says it was an
oversight by MLAs not to discuss the issues at the recent meeting of the
IH: Well I think that Richard makes some valid
points and I think the point he makes that there was very little mention or no
mention of some of the policies concerning the hydrocarbons development in the
Assembly is, I guess, an oversight on the part of Members. Nobody actually spoke about it and there was
no debate about it and as I say, it was an oversight on the part of all Members,
SB: The statement of policy and principles, port
location and oil related infrastructure referred to in Mr Cockwellís letter was
agreed by Executive Council last week. It
was agreed that the statement of policy principles would state that there would
be no new permanent offshore or onshore port related oil developments in
Stanley Harbour or Stanley Town including peripheral areas and that the site of
such permanent development will be Port William where infrastructure will be
constructed provided there is sufficient forward funding contributions from the
Oil Industry and Private Sector initially for oil based activities by 2017.
The policy document also states
that FIG will accept the construction and operation of an interim and temporary
jetty but under a number of parameters. If
a temporary jetty facility were to be constructed, at Mare Harbour, in Stanley
Harbour or any other location, It will be subject to a number of conditions. These include they would be for a maximum of
three years, after which they will be removed regardless of whether or not
alternative port facilities exist.
In his letter to MLAs Mr Cockwell
said that he had received representations from the private sector and
individuals who are concerned that the statements within this policy document
have the effect of inhibiting any real private sector involvement.
Mr Cockwell wrote that the lack of
any public debate on the subject must leave the public to assume that Members
all agree with the strategy and their effect is not available to the public
which support the policy, which he says that on the face of it appear draconian
and not in the interests of the local involvement in the infrastructure. MLA Hansen explained the process behind the
IH: this came about when some of our officials
went to London for a workshop with the oil industry a few weeks ago and they
asked for a policy steer from Members to take with them. And basically the main features of that were
that there would be clear preference for no new permanent offshore or onshore
oil development in or around Stanley.
That was made clear. And the wish
to build the new port in Port William and in principle accept construction of a
temporary jetty down by FIPASS somewhere but it would be time limited and there
was a policy steer they took away to negotiate as a starting point.
SB: And he says that is quite draconian. Would you disagree with that?
IH: Yes. I
think I would because we have to have a firm policy of where we are going with
the oil industry. And the oil industry wants
a firm policy. And perhaps it hasnít
been out to public consultation as much as it should have been.
I get the general feeling, though,
that people who live in Stanley actually donít want oil exploitation in the
middle of the town. Maybe thatís the
wrong feeling but it is the general feeling I get. I am sure that is where that came from.
SB: I am sure most people will be aware that one
of the companies involved have been looking for expressions of interest for
work in this area and they probably spent some money already and developed
those plans and to have the stance taken now and it would probably quite
annoying for them that they have gone down the road and have said it was not
the desirable way to go forward.
IH: Well the fact that there is a difference
between oil exploration and oil exploitation amend the needs and that is the
reason why EXCO have made the decision to allow a three year period of exploration
down at FIPASS because that needs to carry on.
I donít know, to be honest, looking ahead I guess maybe it is
possible. If something isnít happening
in three years there might be a possibility of an extension. I honestly canít say at this moment. It will be up to the next Assembly and
circumstances, I guess.
But the oil industry understands
that there will not be any exploitation work down there. They donít particularly want it down there
and prefer the Port William option and they are content to move any temporary
facilities within that timeframe.
SB: A meeting was held yesterday between FIG
officials and MLAs to address some of the practical difficulties identified
during the recent public consultation on the potential designation of all roads
in the Islands. MLA Hansen says that
further work will be done on the issue.
IH: We met with the Attorney General and Chief
Inspector McGill and a Legislative Drafter to speak about some of the practical
problems that there will be if all roads were immediately designated under the
current Road Traffic Ordinance. And the
outcome is that the Attorney General is going to go away and draft something
for us to look at, at this monthís EXCO
to try and get around some of those real practical problems because one shoe
doesnít fit all as far as the Road Traffic ordinance is concerned. So thatís where we are with that and we will
know more at the end of the month.
(100X Transcription Service)