Law to reinstate permits for civil works tabled

PHILIPSBURG–A draft law to reinstate the need for and the issuance of permits for all civil works was tabled in a Central Committee meeting of Parliament on Thursday by Spatial Planning and Infrastructure Minister Angel Meyers. Members of Parliament (MPs) deemed the scope of the draft law too broad and recommended that Meyers tailor the criteria for a permit to reduce or remove ambiguity.

The draft law is related to the reintroduction of Article 28a of the National Ordinance on the Spatial Development Plan of the country which dates to October 1993.

In December 1998, the then Island Council deemed it necessary for the issuance of permits for civil works and Article 28a came into effect and was in use for more than a decade until its prescribed life cycle expired in January 28, 2012.

The Article had a life span, because it was slated to be in place until the zoning plans for the country were implemented. However, to date, those zoning plans have not been finalized. Meyers said several of the zoning plans have “more years to complete.”

Since that year, no permit is necessary for civil works which includes excavations, cutting of hillsides, pruning and cutting of historical trees, filling in of water, and the building of roads or pavements.

Meyers wants to rectify the gap by reintroducing Article 28a to close the “legal vacuum” that now exists. Without the Article in place, no civil work is under the scrutiny of the Ministry and there is no way of ensuring public safety, said the Minister.

While MPs agreed that control is needed, they argued that the scope was too broad.

United People’s (UP) party leader MP Theo Heyliger described the Article as proposed by the Minister as “broad and far-reaching.” He added that it was “too opened ended” with “no real guideline” as to what kind of excavation, for example, would require a permit.

The meeting was suspended after some deliberation between MPs and the Minister. The session will be recalled by Parliament Chairwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams in the near future.

Source: The Daily Herald Law to reinstate permits for civil works tabled