7 Jun 2005

Vanuatu lands ministry yet to sign approval for negotiation of controversial project

9:18 am on 7 June 2005

The Director General of Vanuatu's Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources says it has not yet given the go-ahead for a controversial business venture in Malampa Province.

The Port Vila Presse reported last week that the ministry and the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority had signed a certificate of negotiation for the Elcress project in south Malekula.

However Russell Nan says the Ministry has not signed the certificate because the Malampa provincial government has not given its approval yet.

There's concern among community leaders in Malampa that the proposed cattle grazing venture could mean landowners lose access to up to 15-thousand acres of their land.

But Mr Nan says an Environmental Impact Assessment has not been carried out yet.

"The process has started. There's been preliminary assesment which actually highlighted areas which require further information. But the detailed EI has not been undertaken yet. With an EI process, that's where all the details should come in and a lot of the issues that have been raised by landowners could be addressed by that process."