07.08.2019

PPRN: "The announcement of this ruling clearly demonstrates once again the lack of consideration of the State representatives for a French overseas territory"

The President of the Collectivité of Saint-Martin, Daniel Gibbs and the entire Territorial Council take note of the decision of the State to put into early application the PPRN.  

The Overseas Collectivité of Saint-Martin (COM) chaired by President Daniel Gibbs learned through the social media networks of the unilateral decision of the Préfecture of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barths to put into early and immediate application the PPRN (Natural Risk Prevention Plan) of Saint-Martin.

Indeed, during the last Territorial Council Meeting on July 17th 2019, all the Territorial Councilors unanimously gave an unfavorable opinion on the version of the anticipated PPRN presented by the State. The Collectivité was also strongly supported by local institutions such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Saint-Martin (CCISM), the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of Saint-Martin (CESC), the Community Councils, Home Owners Associations, professional federations, parliamentarians and many more organizations.

By rejecting this version of the PPRN, the Collectivité had also expressed its strong desire to co-construct a relevant plan with the State.  A plan that would intelligently combine the safety and the quality of life offered to the residents and the visitors.

In addition, over the last four months multiple requests have been addressed to the Préfète Sylvie Feucher by the Collectivité to extend the period of instruction of the PPRN.

Faced with the lack of response, the President of the COM sent a letter dated 31July 2019 to the Minister of Overseas, Mrs. Annick Girardin, in which he requested in particular the postponement of the application of the PPRN. Furthermore, he informed the Minister of the willingness of the COM to contribute to the construction of a Plan that would better suited to the context, by leading a broader consultation that would include the social and economic actors as well as the inhabitants of Saint-Martin (letter which also remains unanswered to date).

The announcement of this ruling clearly demonstrates once again the lack of consideration of the State representatives for a French overseas territory that is currently under physical and psychological reconstruction after the passage of hurricane Irma, and whose inhabitants, though concerned by their safety, cannot additionally endure the imposition of rules that would directly impact their living conditions and their future.

The Collectivité of Saint-Martin has always been considerate and proactive in its collaboration with the State services. However, this announcement undermines these collaborative efforts.

The recently implemented PPRN prohibits construction on almost the entire coastline of our island which not only represents the main source of interest for visitors but also a major residential area for the population.

As the property and real estate heritage of thousands of Saint-Martiners is at stake, the activity of the economic stakeholders and the social stability of the territory are severely impacted as well. Yes, this version of the PPRN is worrisome.

It is also driving away serious investment projects that would significantly contribute to the economic recovery of a New Saint- Martin.

Such precipitation, in full hurricane season, while the reconstruction is just underway following the compensation payments of insurance companies, raises many questions.

The stakes for Saint-Martin are far too important for the Collectivité to accept such offhandedness and lack of regard of its population from the State representatives.

Moreover, a PPRN, such as the one imposed today, cannot and must not be built so hastily or conceived without those who live on the territory.

If we must compare the treatment that Saint-Martin is subjected to today with the example of the PPRI (Flooding Prevention Plan) that was implemented following the passage of the storm Xynthia in Vendée on February 28, 2010, in which 47 people died by marine submersion. The facts are quite instructive:

23 months were necessary for the application of a revision, delay considered at the time too hasty, versus today 4 months granted to Saint-Martin.

The Overseas Collectivité of Saint-Martin strongly contests this precipitated decision and qualifies it as not only being authoritarian but also highly detrimental to the overall economic and social balance of Saint-Martin.

 

 

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