x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

No new quarries in RAK, say authorities

The fast development of the quarry industry during the years of heightened construction activity in the UAE was the subject of criticism from some conservationists, saying the development was disturbing important mountain ecosystems.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // With 23 quarrying and crushing facilities in the emirate, authorities in RAK said they were not planning on issuing any new licences for operators.

Dr Saif Al Ghais, the executive director of the Environment Protection and Development Authority in Ras Al Khaimah said: “We are not allowing any new crushers. For the past six or seven years, we have not issued new licences.”

The fast development of the quarry industry in the years of heightened construction activity in the UAE was criticised by conservationists, who said the development was disturbing important mountain ecosystems.

Facilities also drew criticism from residents in nearby areas, who complained about the high concentration of dust in the air.

Dr Al Ghais acknowledged the negative environmental impact of the industry but said the authorities were trying to manage it.

“You cannot have zero pollution,” he said, adding that all economic activities have an impact. “We could not build our streets, houses and buildings without these materials.

“If we do not use this, we will have to import it from outside.”

The authority was also trying to address the cumulative impact of the quarrying industry by allowing the activities in clusters in the mountains, he said. It was also monitoring whether existing facilities adhered to procedures outlined by the government to limit their negative environmental and public health impacts.

“We have to implement the environmental regulations,” he said. “If they break the law, we have to penalise them or stop them from working.”

The authority has an engineer on staff, as well as inspectors who monitor compliance. Punishments for breaches range from fines of up to Dh20,000 to temporarily freezing or removing licences.

vtodorova@thenational.ae