BEST Concerns Over Housing Ministry

April 13, 2011

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST] has concerns over the announcement that the departments of government dealing with housing have been coupled with the departments dealing with Planning and the Environment.

Following the recent resignation of Lt. Col. David Burch, Minister of  Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy Walter Roban took over the housing portfolio.

In explaining those concerns, BEST Chair Stuart Hayward said, “It would be remiss of BEST if we did not point out the potential for conflict by having a single Minister heading both the portfolio of Housing and the portfolio of the Environment.”

“The most frequent issue arising in the search for and supply of housing is that of environmental and Planning concerns. Similarly, one of the most demanding aspects of the Planning Department’s work is the issues associated with housing.

Neither of these important portfolios should be faced with the perception or reality of a bias favouring one over the other”. Mr. Hayward continued, “Rather than opening the Ministry and the Minister to the risk of accusations of bias, it would be far less controversial and more appropriate to keep a development-oriented department separate from a development-monitoring and –controlling department.”

Mr. Hayward said this was not a new stance, “This observation is a consistent one held by environmental watchdogs over several decades, that in the interest of minimizing possible conflicts of interest, the entities with a mandate to seek or promote development should not be coupled with entities charged with holding a line on development as laid out in Planning legislation.”

Mr. Hayward said he hoped the government would move to remedy this “potential for conflict as it was not in the public interest for it to remain in place.”

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