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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 ...



(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 Legislative Assembly.


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, I guess.


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 statement.


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)


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