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'Revisit impact of Harmony Cove development on environment'

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2015 | 4:00 AM

MANAGING DIRECTOR of Smith Warner International Dr David Smith is making fresh calls for a managed approach to the environmental impact that the Harmony Cove development will have on the nation's coast.

Smith Warner International is the leading regional Caribbean coastal engineering firm.

Smith, whose firm has worked on numerous development projects throughout the Caribbean, said his company was involved in the conception stages of Harmony Cove. At that time, the project concept included golf courses, hotels, a marina, and entertainment facilities.

He believes that the concept has since changed, and with it, the environmental implications, both positive and negative.

"The socio-economic benefits of this project are so large for north-western Jamaica that I would definitely want to see it happen, but in a way that does not override and kill the ecology," he said in an interview with The Gleaner.

He explained some of the environmental issues that would need to be addressed. "Golf courses have their own particular set of ecological issues in terms of the effects of fertiliser on the water table and the run-off effects on adjacent coral reefs. There is also sewage that will be generated, and the best methods of treatment and disposal must be applied."

Smith pointed out that storm water is also an issue, noting that it needs to be collected and disposed of in a way that minimises negative impacts to coral reefs and coastal water quality. This is an area where mangrove preservation and development can be synergistic, he added. "In fact, there are mangroves close to the shoreline that will need to be, or should be, retained. Preservation of the shoreline is also an important item," he outlined.

He described Harmony Cove as one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the entire Caribbean.

"In general, there are some big issues to be dealt with in getting this project off the ground, but they can be dealt with." he said.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com