Govt moves further on national plan for floods, climate change

While en­dors­ing the need for a “na­tion­al con­ver­sa­tion” on peren­ni­al flood­ing, a re­lease from the Min­istry of Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment has in­di­cat­ed that the Town and Coun­try Plan­ning Di­vi­sion (TCPD) has tak­en fur­ther steps to cre­ate Spa­tial Plan­ning Guide­lines to guide na­tion­al de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties for Cli­mate Change Adap­ta­tion and Flood-prone ar­eas.

“These pol­i­cy mea­sures will en­sure ad­e­quate adap­ta­tion to cli­mate change and safe­guard­ing of en­vi­ron­men­tal and com­mu­ni­ty re­sources while em­pha­siz­ing the im­por­tance of pre­serv­ing agri­cul­tur­al lands,” the re­lease read.

The re­lease ex­plained that this was part of the TCPD’s re­view of its guide­lines, stan­dards and poli­cies, in­clud­ing rec­om­mend­ing no-build zones, “to en­sure that de­vel­op­ment takes place with ad­e­quate ref­er­ence to dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion.”

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, Min­is­ter Camille Robin­son-Reg­is ac­knowl­edged the com­plex fac­tors at play in flood risk man­age­ment “as there are struc­tur­al and non-struc­tur­al op­tions to be con­sid­ered that must work in syn­er­gy if the re­sponse is to be sus­tain­able”.

“Notwith­stand­ing the above, the treat­ment of waste and the si­mul­ta­ne­ous be­hav­iour change re­quired of the peo­ple of Trinidad and To­ba­go, is a crit­i­cal non-struc­tur­al so­lu­tion which must al­so be con­sid­ered in this na­tion­al con­ver­sa­tion. One can­not ig­nore the his­tor­i­cal rea­sons which may have giv­en rise to the es­tab­lish­ment of en­tire com­mu­ni­ties with­in flood-prone ar­eas where these lands were orig­i­nal­ly ap­proved for agri­cul­ture. Nei­ther can the re­fusal of cit­i­zens to fol­low build­ing guide­lines that can re­duce the ex­po­sure of per­sons to floods, be ig­nored.

“Ad­her­ing to the re­quired stan­dards en­sures that peo­ple build where there is the req­ui­site in­fra­struc­ture and min­i­mal im­pact to the en­vi­ron­ment,” the re­lease said.

Ref­er­enc­ing the flood­ing to north­ern Trinidad and To­ba­go with last week’s pass­ing of Trop­i­cal Storm Karen, the re­lease not­ed the in­creased fre­quen­cy of sin­gle-day weath­er events which bring more rain­fall in one day than the usu­al month­ly av­er­ages.

“With the se­vere and un­pre­dictable changes in our weath­er pat­terns, The Ho­n­ourable Min­is­ter, there­fore, urges cit­i­zens to work with the Town and Coun­try Plan­ning Di­vi­sion and our sis­ter agen­cies to im­ple­ment sus­tain­able so­lu­tions to com­bat this chal­lenge,” the re­lease end­ed.


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