LNG plant in Portland Bight
THE EDITOR, Sir:
We are very disturbed at the announcement by Minister Hylton of the LNG plant and the location in Old Harbour of a new power plant as it is within the Portland Bight Protected Area.
We have read over the EIA by CL Environmental Co and find it to contain many of the same issues we and others have outlined as reasons to preserve and restore the Portland Bight Protected Area. There is no doubt that contained within the PBPA there is mixed use. This is not contrary to the UNESCO/UNEP on Biosphere Reserves as long as core areas are established.
So far, this administration has refused to develop any proposal that would clearly outline zones of usage of the PBPA as a mixed use Biosphere Reserve. This admini-stration has blocked the UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve Programme for the Portland Bight Protected Area, deferred the UN application after many years of study, rehabilitation, money and time working towards a goal that the Government agreed to pursuing.
What is also alarming here is that no mention or proposal was clearly given for development of the plant to the public for their input or consideration prior to the undertaking of the EIA. We would like to know the outcome(s) of any public hearing, if in fact any took place, where they took place, time and number of attendees, as required by law. According to the EIA by CL Environmental, public hearings were to be set for no more than 21 days after the publication of the EIA and a full month of responses/comments on the project were to follow. The EIA is dated Oct 2015. It is now November.
Having looked over actions taken by NEPA for 2015 (Jan 20, 2015-Sept 15, 2015), we see no permits nor the granting of access as is required by law to carry out the EIA by CL from NEPA. We therefore request documentation as to the process in which permission was granted and under what bases.
The lack of public information goes against the charter of NEPA and their due diligence in maintaining the laws, standards and practices. We find this to be irresponsible.
According to the 81 questionnaires over the 11 communities contained in the EIA, we see that there was not sufficient advance information given on this project to the communities. We also found that the 20 questionnaires given to "fisherfolk" not only contain insufficient information, but that the project was mostly frowned upon. The overall sample group being so small is also of question as the average number of people asked in each community is 7.36 persons.
Contained within the EIA are several legal issues as well as ethical issues where development of this type in the PBPA are concerned. Many of these are the same issues faced when considering the development of the Goat Islands and will take time to relegislate, or to set aside agreements nationally, locally and internationally. We don't see these issues being resolved within the time frame given for the start of this project as outlined by the ministry.
We seek clarification on how and when this administration was or is going to inform the public of their intentions. When, how, and if this administration is going to try and bypass all of the legal issues and agreements where this area is concerned. We will again point out that many of these laws and agreements take time and require by law that they be done in full transparency.
Many of the laws and agreements for the Portland Bight Protected Area are as such that they require the public's input in the changing of those, and not just that of the development, as one of the main issues is the Jamaican Constitution Charter of Freedoms & Rights. A move to amend the charter would not only affect the PBPA, but all the people of Jamaica.
We do not wish to block progress for Jamaica, we seek to maintain sustainable development. For Jamaica, this means looking very closely at the limited amount of resources it has and placing these types of developments in more suitable areas, while preserving resources for future generations and looking at the impacts that climate change will have on Jamaica in the future.
Steven G. Smith
Jamaica Action, Dialogue,
(A USA-based NGO/