NEWS

Environment Minister Seeks To Prosecute Freesoul Real Estate Development For Violation Of Terms Of Development

Initially, the proposed resort was to include overwater villas, restaurants, a club and a casino, as well as beachfront units, ridge units, a kindergarten, a spa, and back-of-house facilities. After conducting their required EIA, the number of accommodation units permitted by the Department was reduced from the initially-planned 351 to 102, and the decision was made not to permit a casino.
08 Feb 2019 11:39
Environment Minister Seeks To Prosecute Freesoul Real Estate Development For Violation Of Terms Of Development
Construction work at the proposed resort site on Malolo Island. INSET: Before the construction work.

Government has confirmed that the construction of a resort on Malolo Island has violated the terms of its development clearly outlined by the Department of Environment.

As such, the Minister for Waterways and Environment, Mahendra Reddy, is pursuing prosecution of the company in question – Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) Ptd Ltd (FREDL).

The Department’s involvement with FREDL’s Malolo Island project in the Mamanuca Group started on June 15, 2017, when the company lodged its environmental impact assessment (EIA) screening application with the intent to build a new resort.

Initially, the proposed resort was to include overwater villas, restaurants, a club and a casino, as well as beachfront units, ridge units, a kindergarten, a spa, and back-of-house facilities.

After conducting their required EIA, the number of accommodation units permitted by the Department was reduced from the initially-planned 351 to 102, and the decision was made not to permit a casino.

Mr Reddy affirmed that the Department, in carrying out its roles in processing the EIA, ensured that all legislative requirements required under the Environment

Management Act 2005 EIA were followed.

The EIA process was inclusive, participatory, transparent and ensured that all concerns raised were addressed.

It involved field investigations, a community presentation and meeting (on December 11, 2017 at the Solevu Village Community Hall on Malolo), and household community surveys (conducted in December of 2017 within Solevu Village).

After the completed EIA report was received from the company in July 2018, the ministry began a thorough review process; this included giving the general public an opportunity to state their views on the report.

The proposed plan.

The proposed plan.

masterplan

In addition, a public consultation meeting was held at Solevu Village to present the findings of the report back to the community and a review committee was established to examine and analyse the report.

The Department has also been in continuous communication with the Fiji Hotel Tourism Association and various hoteliers in the Malolo region to gain their input to the proposed development.

The Department took all feedback into consideration and, consequently, a scaled-back version of the project was approved in December 2018.

The approved development would strictly allow for land based-development –– a conscious decision to minimise any environmental impact.

As a condition of the approval, the company was given a number of very stringent conditions to fulfil before works were begin on site, and all foreshore development works were not permitted.

Meanwhile, it is clear that these conditions have been breached.

As such, the Department is working closely with the Office of the Director Public Prosecutions to see that Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) Pte Ltd is prosecuted for the offences and environmental damage they have incurred on the island of Malolo.

The case was filed for prosecution to the Office of the Director for Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in September 2018.

Edited by Naisa Koroi
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