EPA asks for environmental, social management plan
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The Lethem airstrip
The Lethem airstrip

Lethem aerodrome upgrade…

THE Government of Guyana is not yet in the clear as it relates to commencement of the Lethem Aerodrome upgrade project. In a public notice on Sunday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that the Ministry of Public Works’ Works Services Group will no longer be required to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment. Instead, the agency is asking that an Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) be submitted. The EPA said that it has decided to “formally retract its previous decision published on December 28, 2019, which required the government to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in order for the agency to approve the project.” It was explained that “after careful consideration of the project, its scale and its potential environmental impacts, the agency has determined that the proposed project will not significantly affect the environment, or human health.”

As a result, the EIA is no longer required; however, the commencement of the upgrades is now dependent on the submission and subsequent approval of the required ESMP. In September 2019, “a ceremonial signing” of the agreement for the rehabilitative works was done at the Takutu Hotel in Lethem. The contract was awarded to H. Nauth and Sons Limited on September 20, 2019, at a cost of $137. 3M. The contracted works entail the upgrade and extension of the existing runway, in an effort to meet standards set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The project, which was catered for in the country’s 2019 budget, also entailed the construction of a terminal building. Last year, some $250M had been set aside to improve airstrips and aerodromes across the country. The upgrade of the aerodrome is viewed as a necessary step in accommodating the increase of air transportation between Georgetown, Lethem, Northern Brazil and the Caribbean. It is also projected that it will significantly reduce the cost of doing business and improve the quality of inter-regional connectivity.

Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Egbert Field, had recently pointed out that prior to the globally devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Guyana was on an upward trajectory as regards air travel, both domestic and international. In a message to observe International Civil Aviation Day on December 7, Field specified that domestic air travel has recorded a significant 16 per cent increase, with some 224,881 passengers travelling within Guyana’s borders in 2019. “Domestic aviation is also critical to the growth and sustainability of several sectors, including Oil and Gas, Mining, Forestry, Agriculture and Tourism,” Field noted.

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