Thu | Feb 25, 2021

Public comments invited on beach access policy

Published:Saturday | January 16, 2021 | 7:15 AM

Members of the public are being encouraged to make comments and provide recommendations on the Beach Access and Management Policy for Jamaica, which is now at the draft stage of development.

The call comes from Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr, who said that the input of the public is vital in ensuring that the policy is beneficial to everyone.

“We want to hear you, your thoughts and your ideas as we work together to finalise and implement this Beach Access and Management Policy that will benefit all Jamaicans for generations to come,” he said in a recorded message during a virtual media sensitisation session on the policy on Thursday.

Charles noted that through the policy, the Government is seeking to increase access to the foreshore (wet sand or gravel area) and to improve the standard of the beaches available to the public.

“We aim to achieve these goals by strengthening the institutional arrangements for the development and maintenance of our beaches, providing increased access of beachgoers to the foreshore and the beach, and providing and maintaining bathing beaches with excellent amenities, which take into account environmental concerns,” he said.

He noted that in preparing the draft, policy consideration was given to all the relevant interests, including the traditional rights of fishers, as well as factors affecting the island’s beaches, including erosion as a result of the impact of weather systems, climate change and pollution from land-based sources.

Charles said that the Government will be carrying out coastal protection works in the eastern end of the island, through the National Works Agency, National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), and with the financial support of the Adaptation Fund.

“Additionally, the Tourism Enhancement Fund will continue to assist the Natural Resources Conservation Authority and NEPA in its capacity as the beach control authority with the provision of technical and financial support in the rehabilitation of some of the island’s public beaches,” he said.

Charles said that the Government is committed to ensuring that Jamaicans and the island’s visitors have access to beaches of good quality.

“As such, the consultations being hosted by my ministry will be comprehensive and inclusive. We are canvassing a wide cross section of society as we gain feedback in order to shape this important and far-reaching national policy,” he said.

A Green Paper was tabled in the House of Representatives in October last year by Charles. Since then, as part of the policy development process, the ministry’s Environment and Risk Management Branch has been hosting a series of virtual consultations with a number of stakeholders.