Demonstrators march through Marigot on October 31 to protest the State’s version of the PPRN. (Robert Luckock photo)
MARIGOT–Opposition party leader Louis Mussington said Friday he is encouraged by French Overseas Minister Annick Girardin’s comments earlier this week in the Senate when she said is awaiting the report from the investigating commissioners on the revised natural risks prevention plan PPRN. She was quoted as saying “discussion and listening” is important.
Girardin could decide to have an extension of the public consultation period once she has studied the report. The public enquiry ended on October 31 and, if the timetable is followed to the letter, a final version of the PPRN will come into force at the end of December.
The PPRN was brought up for discussion spontaneously in the Senate on November 5 when a bill to ratify the ordinance outlining penalties for non-compliance with St. Martin’s urban building code was adopted.
St. Martin’s quest to obtain a delay on implementation of the PPRN was given a boost when Senator for Guadeloupe Victorin Lurel suggested it should be postponed.
“Lurel suggested to the Minister [Giradin – Ed.] that now the hurricane season is practically over she should take the time before June 2020 to be more open-minded, to not rush the issue and to appreciate the concerns put forward by the people of St. Martin,” said Mussington. “Senator Guillaume Arnell is also due to submit his report.
“Strangely, a senator from Les Républicains, which is also President Gibbs’s party, said the PPRN should be implemented by December 31. Her stance appeared to show total disregard for St. Martin’s concerns.”
Mussington suggested the PPRN discussion between Senators was undoubtedly prompted by the march organised by Soualiga United Movement on October 31 protesting the State’s version of the plan.
“We are going to meet next week to decide what further action to take,” he added, referring to a follow-up to the successful protest march. “We will also be letting the Préfète know that we are very dissatisfied with her decision not to receive our delegation on that day. We view that as total disrespect, despite the fact we had hundreds of people on the street.
“We will be pushing for a postponement of the PPRN, as Lurel suggested, and we have time before the next hurricane season starts to discuss it, plan it, and make sure we get it right on behalf of the population. Nothing on this subject should go into effect at the end of the year.”
Asked about the proposed amendments to the PPRN made by the Collectivité’s expert technical committees, and whether Soualiga United Movement and the Collectivité are on the same page, Mussington said: “I hope we are on the same page. I believe we are moving in the same direction. But we will be having a Territorial Council meeting on November 22 to discuss the Steering Committee’s [COPIL] report.
“The PPRN in its present form is not permitting economic development on the coastline. It’s unacceptable that the people are restricted from having full use of their property on the coastline, especially when they have nowhere else to go. The 10 million euros from the Fonds Barnier [expropriation funds] we are saying should be used to reinforce construction on the coastline.”
President Daniel Gibbs was not available Friday evening to comment on the latest developments.