Wed | Aug 12, 2020

Letter of the Day | What is the status of the environmental impact assessment?

Published:Friday | January 10, 2020 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

On August 7, 2019, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for SML 173 had been completed and was ready for public comment. On August 27, 2019, Peter Knight, CEO of the National Environment and Planning Agency, announced that in fact the EIA had not met the required terms of reference, was therefore incomplete and the public comment stage of the process would not be likely before the end of 2019.

On November 22, 2019, Robert Montague, minister of transport and mining, announced in Parliament that EIA or no EIA, SML 173, which had been granted in 2018, would not be revoked.

The four plus months of delay in the EIA process has allowed Noranda Bauxite Jamaica Ltd to wage a public-relations campaign that started with the very innovative tactic of busing in contractors and workers to Kingston to protest in front of Jamaica Environment Trust and Parliament. It has continued with an expensive ad campaign with pretty pictures and fanciful stories about how delicately and carefully bauxite mining is done and how beneficial it is to farming communities in St Ann.

Given that the Government of Jamaica is the majority (51 per cent) owner in this so-called public-private partnership, with what monies is the Government of Jamaica paying for the apparently now irrelevant EIA for SML 173, and the ongoing ad campaign to convince us that bauxite mining must continue at any and all costs?

AN EXPLANATION IS NEEDED

Are we the taxpayers of Jamaica paying not only for the damage that bauxite mining does to Jamaica but also the campaign to justify that damage? Maybe the money being used for the campaign could instead go to the mined-out communities in St Ann that have no health clinics, no hospitals, and no future?

We are now in week two of 2020 and no EIA for SML 173 has been presented to the public. Mr Knight, please give the public an update on the status of the EIA. And the Office of the Prime Minister, please explain to us how much money the Government of Jamaica is spending on the Noranda ad campaign and where that money comes from.

ESTHER FIGUEROA, PHD

Gordon Town

mediavagabond@gmail.com