St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Receive Indicative EDF 11 Funding of 21.5 Million Euros Councillor Lawson Henry, SHG UK Representative, Kedell Worboys MBE, and Assistant Financial Secretary, Dax Richards, are currently attending the 12th Overseas Countries and Territories – European Union Forum (OCT-EU Forum) in Brussels, Belgium. They are representing St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha at the Forum covering a variety of issues.

The delegation arrived in Brussels early on Tuesday morning, 3 December. The day was dominated by the Trilateral meeting with the European Commission (EC) and Member States, where discussions centred on the 10th European Development Funding (EDF) allocations and progress against leading indicators for the release of funding to all three Islands.

This was a very useful meeting where the delegation were able to highlight concerns in the different Islands and how they can continue to work together with the EC to get the best results. That evening at 6pm the delegation attended a Forum at the European Parliament, on the subject of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, hosted by Member of the European Parliament Mr Maurice Ponga. The presentations and debate ended around 9.30pm.

On Wednesday the delegation attended the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTA, of which St Helena is a founding member) Ministerial Conference, where there were various issues and discussions, including the political resolutions. Councillor Henry gave a short intervention on the topic of the adoption of a board of Chairman. The political resolutions once agreed were then physically signed off by Councillor Henry and the other heads of the 25 delegations of OTCA. During the forum the new Executive Council of the OCTA was elected and SHG UK Representative, Kedell Worboys was elected to the post of Vice President of the OCTA EXCO. This is great news for St Helena as we will have a stronger voice and presence on all OCTA matters.

Thursday saw the start of the actual 12th OCT-EU Forum, and there were presentations from key stakeholders, including the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament. Representatives of Member States then talked about the Overseas Association Decision (OAD), welcomed the new OAD and the further engagement of the OCTs. The EC then announced the indicative financial allocations under the 11th EDF round for the OCTs. St Helena, Ascension and Tristan will receive 21.5 million Euros in total for all three Islands over the period of 2015-2020. This was followed by the interventions from each of the heads of delegations in response to the new OAD. Councillor Henry presented his intervention which was well received by all present.

When asked how he thought the Forum has gone so far Councillor Henry said: “Attending the OCT-EU forum has been a real eye opener and a steep learning curve, as it brings together not only Britain’s Overseas Territories but the whole of the EU’s OCT’s. This highlights the richness and diversity of living on an Island. “I believe we on Island underestimate the importance of the OCT’s-EU relations to St Helena, Ascension and Tristan. We need to change this and ensure our people are educated on these issues. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Kedell and Dax for their support and guidance during the Forum.”

The meetings will conclude today Friday, 6 December, with further discussions around territorial and regional programming and strategies for innovation. Councillor Henry and Kedell will then leave later that evening. Dax will stay on for the training workshop for Territory Authorising Officers (TAO) which will take place on Monday and Tuesday 9 and 10 December, before returning to London on Tuesday evening.

Both Councillor Henry and Dax will depart for Ascension on Wednesday and arrive back on St Helena on Tuesday 17 December.

SHG 6 December 2013

News of Nelson Mandela’s death reached St Helena late yesterday evening. Commenting on the sad news this morning, HE Governor Mark Capes said:

‘I know that the news of Nelson Mandela’s death will be received with great sadness by the people of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha. During my visit to South Africa only a few weeks ago, I spoke of the close historical, family and cultural links with South Africa and of the warm and friendly relationship we enjoy.

‘At this sad time we give thanks for the life of a truly great man and celebrate the powerful and lasting legacy of his commitment to peace and reconciliation. On behalf of our communities on all three islands, I extend sincere condolences to Mr Mandela’s family and to all the people of South Africa’. Governor Capes has directed that all flags on St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha be flown at half mast today, 6 December.

SHG 6 December 2013

EMD will be undertaking Feral Pigeon Culling at Horse Point Landfill Site on a monthly basis between December 2013 and March 2014, in an effort to reduce pigeon numbers as part of the mitigation of bird strike risk to aircraft in advance of the Airport certification process.

The culling will take place between 0600hrs and 0800hrs, commencing this month on Sunday 8 December.  Whilst the landfill site is closed between these times, marshals will be in place as a safety measure and the public are requested to remain outside of the site and adhere to any directions given by the marshals.  Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

If you have any concerns regarding the culling you are invited to contact Mike Durnford, Environmental Risk Manager at EMD on 22270, or via e-mail 

mike-durnford@enrd.gov.sh

SHG

4 December 2013

The Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund (Darwin Plus) was launched last year by the UK Government, with the aim of helping to deliver long-term strategic outcomes for the natural environment in the UK’s Overseas Territories.

The second round of 2013 bidding was recently completed and St Helena was very successful, with five bids awarded:

  • St Helena Baseline Assessment of Physical Environmental Parameters
  • Taxonomic and Conservation Status of Oceanodroma Storm Petrels in the South Atlantic
  • Securing St Helena’s Rare Cloud Forest Trees and Associated Invertebrates
  • Conservation of the Spiky Yellow Woodlouse and Black Cabbage Tree Woodland
  • Darwin Fellowship – MRes Carbon Sequestration in Community Forests

The St Helena Baseline Assessment (awarded £96,700) will provide a foundation for effective environmental management through gathering baseline information of physical parameters to allow the assessment of change on St Helena, including the impact of the new airport and associated economic activity.

The Taxonomic and Conservation Status of Oceanodroma Storm Petrels in the South Atlantic aims to clarify whether storm petrels nesting on St Helena and Ascension Island are the same species that occurs elsewhere in the Atlantic, or whether they constitute one or more species to new science.  The project, awarded £43,430, will survey all known colonies and re-assess their IUCN conservation status. 

Securing St Helena’s Rare Cloud Forest Trees and Associated Invertebrates was awarded a sum of £98,380. This will be used to secure the existence of four endangered and critically endangered keystone endemic tree species and their associated invertebrate fauna in the Peaks National Park.

The project entitled Conservation of the Spiky Yellow Woodlouse and Black Cabbage Tree Woodland was granted to the St Helena Nature Conservation Group.  The £37,090 grant will be used to stabilise and restore a further hectare of woodland, enhancing populations of several very rare endemic ferns and invertebrates. A captive breeding programme will safeguard the last few spiky yellow woodlice, whilst detailed biodiversity surveys will inform longer term management.

The MRes study (£21,617) will investigate carbon sequestration of selected endemic tree species, in order to provide a scientific basis to register a carbon off-setting scheme. This will provide information on the carbon sequestration potential of schemes on St Helena and, in turn, will also allow calculations of current and future carbon capacity of restoration sites on the Island.

The projects will be delivered by a variety of partners, including: the Environment Management Division of St Helena Government; St Helena National Trust; St Helena Nature Conservation Group; Buglife; RSPB; the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Queens University, Ontario, Canada.

Ben Sansom, Head of SHG’s Environmental Management Division, said:

“St Helena was awarded funding for 5 projects out of a total of 15 OT projects which were selected for funding this year. This is a great result and testament to the collaborative bidding and delivery of nature conservation projects on the Island.  Our next challenge is to ensure that the skills and knowledge gained through delivering these projects are retained on Island, so we can ensure the long term protection of our unique environment.”

Chris Hillman, Director of the St Helena National Trust, added:

“Given the stiff competition this year and with only two million pounds to cover the 14 OTs, St Helena has done extremely well this year. The five successful projects will provide further information in support of conservation initiatives and needs on the Island. What is most needed now is support for trained Saints to plan and carry out the conservation management on the ground for the long term.”

The Darwin Plus fund brings together two existing UK Government funding mechanisms: the DfID/FCO-funded Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP); and OT-related elements of the Defra/DfID-funded Darwin Initiative (including the Challenge Fund). This new consolidated fund aims to provide a simpler and more coordinated mechanism to support UK Overseas Territories’ natural environment issues by acting as a one-stop-shop source of funding.

SHG

3 December 2013

Executive Council met today to discuss three items on the open agenda. 

The first item concerned a proposal to increase liquor licensing fees following an annual review. ExCo agreed the proposed increases.

The second item concerned a proposal to increase the charges for granting or renewal and transfer of licenses for Gaming Machines.  ExCo agreed the proposed increases.

The third item involved a long and detailed discussion on changes to Regulations and Orders under the Land Planning and Development Control Ordinance 2013.  For this discussion Head of Planning and Development Control, David Taylor, was present.

There were eight subsidiary Regulations and Orders under discussion. 

Six of these Regulations are effectively covered in the 2008 Ordinance.  The purpose of extracting them from the Ordinance and placing them in the Regulations is to provide flexibility and facilitate future revision.  Had these remained in the Ordinance, it would require a formal sitting of Legislative Council to amend them, whereas once they are Regulations any further amendments can be made by Executive Council.

The Land Planning and Development Control (General Development) Order is a new Regulation and this was discussed at some length.   This Regulation allows for relatively minor and uncontentious work to be permitted without the necessity of applying for development permission.  ExCo unanimously supported this as it will reduce the administrative burden on both the applicant and the planning section.

It was made clear that while certain minor developments will not require development permission it will always be advisable for any developer to contact the Planning Officer prior to construction to ensure, in writing, that development permission is not required.  Building Regulations approval will still be necessary for such work.

Also approved was the Land Planning and Development Control Ordinance (Commencement) (No.2) Order 2013, which will bring into effect the Land Planning and Development Control Ordinance 2013, and the Regulations and Orders  from 1 January 2014.

Under any other business there was a discussion about HIV/AIDS and the need to maintain public awareness on this sensitive issue. 

One Member of ExCo enquired if it would be possible for those in receipt of Basic Island Pension or Income Related Benefits to receive a Christmas Advance.  There is no policy or budget for this, and so it was not possible to agree to it.

The Governor gave a summary of his recent trip to Cape Town and Tristan da Cunha. In Cape Town, along with Councillor Lawson Henry and Julian Morris, he had undertaken a number of activities to raise awareness of St Helena as a potential tourism and investment destination.  There had been a positive response from the public, investors and politicians in the Cape. 

The Governor also spoke warmly of his time in Tristan da Cunha and paid tribute to the resilience of the Tristan community. 

The meeting closed at 11.20 am. 

ExCo

3 December 2013

Kerisha Stevens
Kerisha Stevens

Public Relations Officer Kerisha Stevens has recently gained a Masters Degree in Communications, Media and Public Relations from the University of Leicester.

Kerisha began her studies in October 2011 via a long distance programme offered through SHG’s training programme, which saw her studying alongside of her job role.  

Modules in Year One included Key Issues and Approaches in Media Study, Media History and Social Regulation; Media in a Global Context and Communications and Globalisation.  Year Two saw Kerisha study Professional Practices and Audience Reception, and submit a 14,949 word Dissertation.

Kerisha’s final Dissertation was titled: ‘Television, the Internet and Young Saints’, which saw her exploring television and internet use among young people on the remote Island of St Helena.

On gaining her Masters, Kerisha said:

“I’m extremely grateful to SHG for giving me the opportunity to study for my Masters. Gaining this Degree is my biggest achievement and after two years of intense study it is such a relief to have completed it successfully.

“Not having a preceding Degree meant I had to study harder – at times studying alongside of my normal work was challenging, often resulting in late nights and early mornings, especially when assignments were due in. However, I can look back over the last two years with pride and be confident that my knowledge of communications has grown and I am now better placed to understand the ever changing media and communications world and use this knowledge in my important communications work for SHG.

Chief Public Relations Officer Ian Jones commented:

“This is a tremendous achievement and I pay tribute to Kerisha for all her hard work and her dedication to completing her studies – which I have witnessed first hand.  She is a credit to the Island.”

St Helena Government is committed to creating a culture of continuous improvement and development to help employees maximise their potential.  The training programme allows employees an opportunity to acquire professional qualifications to assist their own development and improve systems and practices within Government.

A photo of Kerisha accompanies this release.

SHG

3 December 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In May 2012 a Ministry of Defence (MOD) team from Salvage and Marine Operations, supported by environmental scientists from RPS Consultants, visited St Helena to survey the wreck of the RFA Darkdale and the surrounding James’ Bay. 

The subsequent MOD report and recommendations for SHG are published today and have all been accepted, including a recommendation that the remaining oil be removed from the wreck at the earliest opportunity.  The MOD has secured funding for the oil removal and we will now work with MOD and FCO to implement the recommendations, all of which are designed to safeguard St Helena’s precious marine environment for the future.

The RFA Darkdale was a fleet fuel tanker stationed at St Helena in World War II. In October 1941, she was attacked and sunk by a U-Boat in James’ Bay and since that time she has been slowly seeping oil – visible as a light sheen over the wreck site. A large oil leak in 2010 caused the Island’s Governor at the time, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the MOD (as owner of the wreck) to call for a formal survey of the wreck. 

The outcome of the survey report showed that the wreck of the RFA Darkdale lies in two parts. The stern section lies on its port side and has suffered substantial torpedo damage. The bow section lies inverted and is in very good condition given the age of the wreck and the time submerged. This bow section is estimated to contain between 2,326 and 4,952 m3 of oil.

The survey found that there were generally low levels of hydrocarbon contamination in water samples taken at the wreck site. Sediment samples were comparably more contaminated and levels of various hydrocarbon compounds exceeded Environmental Quality Standards (EQS). The majority of the fish samples taken at the wreck site were found to contain low level hydrocarbon contamination and approximately 10% of the fish/shellfish sampled exceeded the relevant EQSs and may be a hazard to human health if consumed.

The wreck continues to corrode and the eventual release of the oil is inevitable unless action is taken to remove oil from the wreck. The environmental study into the potential effects of a large oil spill found that that there would be short term lethal risk to inshore fish species, and oil persisting in the environment would further hinder the recovery of these species, potentially causing long term sub-lethal effects.

Following the survey and subsequent analysis and review of the wreck, the team has now produced a report with the following recommendations, that:

 

  • The remaining oil on the wreck is removed
  • St Helena Government prohibits anchoring within 200m of the wreck site
  • SHG imposes a fishing ban over the wreck and its immediate area
  • A larger sample of fish from a wider area should be taken and analysed for hydrocarbon contamination
  • A long term programme of fish and environmental monitoring is set up

 

A full copy of the Report, including the introductory Executive Summary, can be found at:

http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Darkdale-report-issue-1-complete-with-annexes.pdf

Head of the Environmental Management Division, Ben Sansom said:

“We fully support the recommendations in the report and will provide all the local knowledge and assistance required by the MOD to ensure the continued protection of our marine environment.

“We are particularly pleased to see that there is a recommendation to remove the oil from the wreck, which will ensure that in the long term there are no legacy contamination risks from the RFA Darkdale.”

Andy Liddell of the MOD’s Salvage & Marine Operations branch, who led the survey, added: 

“The MOD intends to remove the oil from the wreck and planning is underway to achieve this.  We are also commissioning a detailed study in to the possible contamination of fish and will work closely with St Helena Government on this study.”  

Previously, concern had also been raised that unexploded ordnance was scattered across the bay, causing a hazard to visiting ships and yachts. The outcome of the survey showed that while there were a small number of shells on or very close to the wreck, there was no evidence of ordnance being scattered more widely across the bay.

SHG will now work with FCO, MOD and other stakeholders to implement all of the recommendations, and further updates will be provided in due course.

SHG

3 December 2013

 

 

As part of St Helena Government’s (SHG) commitment to increase transparency in the Procurement process, SHG has today made available to the public an updated Contracts Register, detailing all contracts entered into since April 2012 and those currently in use. This register is intended to give the public increased visibility into SHG’s procurement activities.

The publication of the Contracts Register now completes the full suite of documents SHG committed to publish to increase the transparency in the Procurement process.

The full document suite consists of:

1)    Procurement Regulations

2)    Terms of Reference for the Procurement Board

3)    Rolling Procurement Plan, listing upcoming procurements

4)    Contracts Register, listing all contracts SHG has entered into

5)    A Register of Waivers, detailing each occasion any requirement of the Procurement Regulations has been waived

The Contract Register together with the other above listed documents can be found on the SHG website under publications, at the following link: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/publications/ 

 

SHG

3 December 2013

WED 11 DECEMBER

Housing Executive, Andy Crowe, and Housing Management Officer, Tracy Thomas, will carry out a series of visits on Wednesday 11 December – to meet Government tenants and assess the quality of the estates around the Island.

“It’s important that we get out of the office and spend as much time as we can on the estates”, says Tracy. There will be several stops, and the approximate timings are as follows:

  • 10.00 Bradleys and on to Bottom Woods
  • 11.00 Longwood (Lady Margaret Field)
  • 12.00 Levelwood (Quincy Vale)
  • 13.00 Cowpath and on to Half Tree Hollow
  • 14.00 Jamestown (Old Boys School)

Anyone wishing to speak to the team should meet up at these times, or alternatively telephone on 22270.

Seasonal Message from SHG Housing Executive Andy Crowe

“December can be a really expensive time, especially for families, so SHG’s housing team wishes to remind everyone to make sure that their housing costs are considered.

“The holiday season is approaching, but please don’t get too carried away! It doesn’t matter whether you live in rented housing or are buying your own home, if you miss your payments the enjoyment of the holiday season could result in a long hangover, as you catch up on what you owe.”

SHG

3 December 2013

The Prince Andrew School Awards ceremony was held in the school hall on the morning of Thursday 29 November.  Head teacher Paul Starkie opened with a motivating speech about Mark Ingles, who climbed Mount Everest although he had both legs previously amputated due to severe frostbite. Paul conveyed to students that although Mark had a disability this did not prevent him from reaching his goal – with the help of team effort he never gave up and continued to strive forward.

DSC_1222

Paul concluded with the message:

“If you set your mind to something you will succeed, be role models to others and an ambassador for Prince Andrew School.”

The awards began with the presentation of GCSE, GCE, VRQ (vocational) AS/A levels followed by individual awards for top performers. Recognition was also given to students who joined Prince Andrew School last September from overseas who achieved passes in their exams but were too late to be given certificates. The winner of the Jean Beadon Award was Keisha Peters, announced by Deputy Head of Student Services, Penny Bowers.

Niza Yon and Scott George were presented with the ‘HE Governor’s Award’ and the ‘Joy George Award’ respectively.

Joy George commented:

“These two students achieved this award today because of their good attitude towards their learning.”

The ‘Bishop Houghton Award’, presented by Cathy Hopkins, was awarded to Lisa Joshua, who showed commitment not only within her studies but also with dedication to her extracurricular activities and volunteering.

The ‘Prince Andrew School PTA Award’ was presented to Josh Hubbard, who also received a prize sponsored by Sure Ltd, with student Robin Midwinter as the top performers within Year 11. 

Top vocational students were awarded in each year group by Kirsty Joshua and Tammy Williams. This particular award acknowledges students who have shown enthusiasm within fields such as agriculture, mechanics, hospitality and design and technology. The final award of the day was the ‘Highest Vocational Skills Achiever’ presented to Stephan Isaac presented with a sponsered prize from Solomons.

Brining to a close to the presentation, Head Girl Chelsea Young gave a vote of thanks to the Governor, and added:

“I hope the awards ceremony today provides motivation for all students, and I wish you all good luck for the future.”

Closing remarks came from Director of Education and Employment, Colin Moore, who stressed the importance of vocational and academic qualifications and the sheer number of young people who are today recognised for their success.

SHG

2 December 2013