EPA says new DHB unlikely to significantly impact the environment

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…persons who disagree may lodge appeals within 30 days from August 18

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided that the proposed Replacement of the Existing Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) will not significantly affect the environment and therefore does not require the submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

However, there must be the submission of an Environmental and Social Assessment and Management Plan (ESAMP) for the project to address specific issues identified in the screening process and detail mitigation measures to ensure that the proposed project can be undertaken in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.

The Government is seeking to replace the DHB which has surpassed its technical life, in an effort to improve the efficiency of the transport system. The replacement bridge will span the Demerara River from Nandy Park to La Grange, upstream and in close proximity to the existing harbour bridge.

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“The current bridge requires fundamental overhaul, replacement, maintenance and repair. Road capacity is limited due to the retraction system. Opening times are long due to the slow retraction process. The structure is vulnerable for incidents from vehicles and vessels as well as river forces. As the bridge is the only connection, the West Bank economy and population will suffer significantly in case the bridge cannot be used over a long time. There is currently no good alternative,” the project summary states.

The new location will allow easy connection to the existing access roads on the West Bank of Demerara and new access roads will be constructed on the East Bank of Demerara. The replacement structure will be a fixed four-lane bridge with a vertical clearance over the channel of approximately 50 meters above the maximum tide level. The proposed design allows for the bridge to be connected to the main road network through road approaches connecting it to the West Bank Public Road and the imminent Mandela to Eccles road, respectively

“In keeping with Section 11 (1) and (2) of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05, the screening of this project resulted in it being categorized as having no significant impacts and minor issues can be addressed through appropriate and practical environmental safeguards informed by an Environmental and Social Assessment and Management Plan,” the EPA stated, adding:

“It must be noted that this decision is in no way an indication that the proposed project is approved by the EPA. This is a notice of exemption from the conduct of an EIA in accordance with Section 11 of the Act.”

The EPA also stated that it is satisfied that if a decision is taken to approve the project, robust measures can be prescribed to ensure compliance with the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05.

Even so, any person who may be affected by the proposed project may lodge an appeal against the Agency’s decisions within 30 days from August 18, 2021.

The DHB was constructed by the UK firm Mabey and Johnson and commissioned on July 02, 1978. It provides direct access to Region Three and indirect access from Georgetown to Regions One, Two, Seven and Eight. The pontoon bridge is maintained through tolls collected manually in one direction.



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