Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Dallas Mountain development a pollution threat

Published:Friday | December 18, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton

Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, one of the country's leading geologists, has indicated that any unplanned housing development in Dallas Mountain, St Andrew, would be ill-advised and could lead to pollution of the Hope River.

Lyew-Ayee also said that an area like Dallas Mountain would require a large cash injection to develop, meaning less affluent persons might not be able to afford the type of infrastructure needed to ensure that a sprawl is not created in the hills or to ensure that proper infrastructure is in place to minimise the impact on the environment.

"This isn't about just giving people land - no different than poor people winning a Mercedes-Benz. It's one thing to have something, it's quite another to have to maintain and support it," he said.

"Occupants of the land there will have a significant struggle for the foreseeable future with water, sanitation, access, electricity supply, crime and security, and public health. Whether or not they are regularised or legitimate owners of the land - even whether or not they are rich or poor - these are the realities they will face for now," the geologist added.

Dallas Mountain, situated in East Rural St Andrew, overlooks the Hope River, and together with the Long Mountain area, sandwiches communities such as August Town and Hermitage.

PROVIDING ACCESS TO LAND

Hugh Gordon, president of the Bedward Gardens Providence Society, which was attempting to develop 500 lots in the area, told The Gleaner earlier this month that the aim was to provide people with access to land.

Lyew-Ayee said that like Long Mountain in St Andrew, there are real concerns about the impact of housing development on aquifers and drainage.

Peter Knight, head of the National Environment and Planning Agency, told The Gleaner yesterday that a well-known developer had written to the agency indicating a desire to construct low- and middle-income housing in the area.

"We outlined a list of things that needed to be done, including the conducting of an environmental-impact assessment, but the developer did not pursue the matter," Knight said.

The Gleaner was told that issues relating to ecosystem management in the area were of concern.

The Government has shut down the providence society's operations at Dallas Mountain, where lots were being sold for as low as $3,000.

Lyew-Ayee said the development had seemed to be moving towards "accom-modating squatter sprawl, something that is inherently dangerous".

He added: "The area, unlike squatter developments elsewhere in that part of Kingston, isn't in a landslide or flood-prone area. However, this area does not have any proper water supply or sewerage system, with the latter, given its proximity, will flow directly into the Hope River."