Member of Parliament for Wheeland, Hon. Kyle Knowles, is spearheading a mission to not only eradicate charcoal-burning especially in his constituency, but also to hold those responsible accountable through imprisonment.
Knowles commitment to dismantle all coal kilns in his constituency came in response to ongoing concerns by residents regarding the environmental and health impact of coal kiln burning in the Blue Hills and Wheeland areas of Providenciales,
Coal kilns are burnt using hard wood trees to create local coal mainly for cooking.
In a recent interview with NewslineTCI, Knowles expressed his deep concern about the persistent problem of coal kiln smoke, which has been a source of irritation for residents. He said over the past few weeks, residents have reported unusual odors and a constant presence of smoke, causing discomfort and health concerns.
Knowles emphasized that the nuisance isn't solely attributed to the nearby dump but also to coal kilns. He stressed the urgency of addressing this issue, putting it on par with the pressing need to address problems related to the dump.
“I want to highlight that a lot of the nuisances aren’t always attributed to the dump, there are other factors such as coal kilns,” he said. “Because of the coal kiln burning and the proximity of where the coal kilns were being burnt, it impacts us as well.”
He added: “One of the reasons I find it necessary to speak on it at this moment its because we are plagued with two issues, and the eradication of coal kilns is one that is just pressing as the dump. And so, it is a fight that we definitely want to keep at the forefront of our agenda, especially my agenda, as we find the remedy for it, getting the necessary assistance from the Immigration department and the Police as well as Environmental Health.”
"We have to be our brother’s keeper," Knowles stated, emphasizing the need for collective action. He highlighted the adverse effects of coal kiln burning, which not only impacts the environment but also contributes to deforestation as people seek to meet the demand for locally produced coal.
He pointed out that coal-burning could have a debilitating effect on Brand Turks and Caicos as well, and so there is an urgent need to begin eradicating such practice.
“So, all of these things impact our environment and impact our brand Turks and Caicos, and so, it is very close to my heart, and I will do my very best to keep my government accountable, and to make sure that we get rid of this unnecessary evil… we will do just that,” Knowles assured.
To tackle the issue effectively, Knowles outlined a multi-pronged approach. First, he called for the development of legislation to ban the production and sale of such coal, believing that a ban would create a ripple effect in curbing its use.
He emphasized the importance of having robust legislation that can be enforced, ultimately leading to imprisonment for those found guilty of violating the law.
Additionally, he urged the public to refrain from purchasing locally made coal to help combat the issue.
In a previous article published in another local newspaper, the Attorney General Chambers, highlighted the legal consequences of engaging in coal manufacturing.
The representative said at the time that persons involved in clearing land to make coal could face fines of up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months. Such activities are in violation of the Physical Planning Ordinance, Crown Land Ordinance, and National Parks Ordinance.
The Physical Planning Ordinance prohibits land clearing without prior authorization and carries a fine of $10,000 for violations. The Crown Land Ordinance empowers the Crown Land Unit to prevent unauthorized actions that degrade Crown land, with penalties of $10,000 or imprisonment for 6 months on summary conviction, and $50,000 or imprisonment for 5 years on conviction on indictment.
Furthermore, the Attorney General Chambers disclosed that coal manufacturing activities may also constitute a tort of nuisance, allowing affected individuals to take legal action against those responsible.
The efforts led by MP Knowles and the legal measures put forth by the Attorney General Chambers underscore the determination to combat coal kiln burning and its detrimental effects on the environment and public health in Providenciales.
“We have to put in the right legislation to give us teeth to enforce, and from enforcement comes imprisonment. We have to look at the wide factor on how we deal with it quickly and swiftly,” the Wheeland MP said.