Villagers oppose project

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Business officials and members of the vanua of Wainikeli at the consultation. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

The traditional landowners of the Vanua o Wainikeli say they are vehemently opposed to the World Wave Project in Qamea.

The first round of consultations ended with heated exchanges between landowners and those who wished for the project to go ahead.

Hoteliers and marine business operators in the Wainikeli District who supported the qoliqoli customary owners in their objection to the project, raised their objections to it.

As a result, the villagers have told the Environment Impact Assessment consultants who are in support of the project not to return for any other consultations, even if it was part of the Department of Environment’s requirements.

“No is a no,” said Naselesele villager Tanasio Tumoi.

“We don’t want any more round two or round three of consultations. We are fed up of this Government, the vanua of Wainikeli and this is the last meeting.”

Another villager, Joseph Stolz, questioned consultant Helen Sykes as to whose side was she on and whether she was paid by the company that was responsible for the project.

“You were with us all this time, but now I feel we are your guinea pigs,” he said.

“We need better verification. You could have used pictures (referring to the presentation of photos from Qamea seabed as her research) from anywhere and show it to us,” he said.

Claude Prevost of Civa Pearls Fiji said he had sent a set of data from Australian experts, showing drastic impacts on the ocean if the project was given the green light.

“I sent you the data and anything that deals with the environment should be looked at seriously because the impact is great and damaging,” he said.

“It took a journalist from New Zealand to expose the Freesoul issue.”

Ms Sykes in her response said the issues raised by Mr Prevost were valid and she would look into the information.

She also clarified she was an independent consultant and did not work for the company or the vanua and said she was there to carry out assessments on her research and findings on the proposed site.

Epeli Nasome, another consultant, told the villagers that they were only working according to the Department of Environment’s procedures which applied to any development projects.

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