The future of Loma Miranda now depends on the zoning plan
SANTO DOMINGO. The observations made by President Danilo Medina to the Law which declared Loma Miranda a National Park and a resulting annulment by this Senate, spreads a gray cloak over the future this mountain, on the frontier between the provinces of La Vega and Bonao, might have.
The scales now move between the prevalence of judicial security, based on the mining concession contract granted to Falconbridge Dominicana (Falcondo), and environmental preservation which already has a judicial presedent from the Constitutional Tribunal (TC).
“In the Loma Miranda case there are no black or white points, but rather gray tones which have to be pondered,” says the lawyer who is a specialist in environmental material, Yomaira Martino. For her, the decision as to whether a mining operation is viable or not, should answer to an issue of classification and territorial zoning, which could locate Loma Miranda on one side or the other.
President Medina, in his letter to Congress supporting his veto, said that under his presidency he would not authorize the exploitation of Loma Miranda, nor of any other place, without the strict compliance to the requirements of a sustainable environmental operation. He opens the window for mining which the government understands complies with these regulations. The President, in addition, stresses the need to safeguard the judicial security of the country.
The lawyer feels that the position of the President opens the road for the mining company to once again request the permits for exploitation and the environmental license denied by the Ministry of Environment, after the report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which concluded that the studies of environmental impact by Falcondo were insufficient.
On the other hand, there is sentence 167 – 13 by the Constitutional Tribunal, which ratifies the appeal issued by the Third Penal Chamber of the Court of the First Instance of La Vega, ordering the halt of the work that Falcondo was carrying out in Loma Miranda, because the court understood that their work was to the detriment of the environment.
Martino feels that while this sentence does not impede that Falcondo can initiate other appeals through different legal ways, both civil, administrative and from the area of international agreements, this decision will always be an important precedent to take into account by any tribunal.
“It doesn’t matter what is decided, it will be a presedent for foreign investment, for the mining exploitation in the country and for environmental protection, and it is one of the most important precedents in Dominican environmental law.
Given this panorama he feels that the “only manner that we are going to resolve these conflicts of land-use, whether it is mining exploitation or not, is with a strategic plan of territorial zoning which tells the country and any foreign investor that if those lands located in a certain zone can be used for mining independently of what is around it, or they can be used for farming or for conservation,” she concluded.
For several years the project of the territorial zoning law has been in the Congress and in the Ministry of Economy, Planning, and Development they are working on the Plan, but neither of the two initiatives has been finished.
“I am forced to observe the totality of its content and to request the Honorable National Congress not only the rejection of this law, but also, to postpone any decision regarding Loma Miranda, and on any other area of the national territory with mining potential, until the Legislative Power issues the law ordered by the Constitution of the Republic regarding the Territorial Zoning Plan,” said Danilo Medina in his letter to the Congress with respect to his veto on Loma Miranda.
Category: DR News |