Lorna Eden’s Ministerial Future Hangs in the Balance

Lorna Eden’s future as Assistant Minister for Environment hangs in the balance.  Mrs Eden said last night a decision would be made today in the wake of a Fiji Sun
07 Sep 2018 10:36
Lorna Eden’s Ministerial Future Hangs in the Balance

Lorna Eden’s future as Assistant Minister for Environment hangs in the balance. 

Mrs Eden said last night a decision would be made today in the wake of a Fiji Sun report that she and her husband, Tim, allegedly breached the environment law when they cleared mangroves on Bakabaka Island in Savusavu.

She was asked whether she had considered stepping down.

Mrs Eden replied: “That will be decided tomorrow (today). I have to talk to the rest of the party.”

She declined to elaborate. She made the comments after chairing the business roundtable discussion on the environment in Savusavu yesterday. But it is understood that she would consult her line minister Mahendra Reddy, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and FijiFirst Party leader Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama before she makes her final decision.

The Edens had been issued with a prohibition notice to stop work on their island, which is at least 10 to 15 minutes ride from Savusavu town. Mrs Eden confirmed the stop-work notice was issued and due process was being undertaken to clarify Mainland Resorts’ position.

It is understood that the company was accused of clearing mangroves without first obtaining an environmental impact assessment report.

She said: “I am one of the directors of MRL, which is the holding company of Bakabaka Island.

“There is no new development taking place on the Island.”

Mrs Eden’s husband, Tim, also said the same thing.

“I can confirm to you that there is no development happening on the island. When the island was left for tender myself and three others showed interest in buying the island.”

He said they had bought the island for their working plantation.

The alleged cutting of mangroves was brought to the attention of the Director of Environment last month by a concerned citizen who lives close to the island.

A report was compiled after the inspection and based on the report the director sent a prohibition notice ordering the company to stop any form of work without a proper EIA  (Environmental Impact Assessment) report.

However, the Permanent Secretary for Environment, Joshua Wycliffe, confirmed that the Edens had given their assurance that all works had stopped.

Business roundtable discussion

Businesses have sought Government assistance in terms of awareness about what they need to do if they are dealing with the environment.

The issue was raised at the Ministry of Waterways and Environment Business Roundtable Discussion on the Environment at the Hot Springs Hotel in Savusavu.    

Long Investment Limited general manager Sareena Singh, who was among the 24 participants, raised the issue with Mr Wycliffe.

Director for Environment Sandeep Singh informed the participants from different business organisations that there were lot of development projects taking place in Fiji.

“We want development to take place, but we want to ensure we protect the environment and future Fijians so that they too can benefit from the natural resources we have,” Mr Reddy said.

“Your presence here today demonstrates that you share the same vision with the Government.

“We hope that the future generation enjoys the same environment that we have now.”

Bakabaka Island care taker

Monica Ramanua of Nagigi Village in Savusavu said her daughter and son-in-law, since last year, have been looking after the island as  care takers.

Ms Ramanua said no one was living on the island.

“Recently, during low tide a digger comes from the estate and drive along the beach to the island,” Ms Ramanua said.

“I have never been to the island but people in my village are saying some work were happening there like the cutting of mangroves. It’s a private island so no one can go there.”

Mere Sekove of Naidi Village in Savusavu said development was good, but it should be done in a proper manner.

“The nearby villagers are worried if the owners of the island clear the mangroves then their houses will be more in danger and prone to flash flood,” Ms Sekove said.

“I heard the island has been bought by Tim Eden and Lorna Eden. They are a good couple as they had once operated Hot Springs Hotel in Savusavu.

“I am sure they know what they are doing and I hope they consider the environment impact and effects of climate change.

“We just want to maintain the same sound peaceful environment.”

Edited by Epineri Vula

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.

5SQRS Clearance

Fiji Sun Instagram