Sat | Nov 28, 2020

Dry Harbour investment not worth the environmental impact

Published:Thursday | November 19, 2020 | 12:09 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

I write in regard to the article titled ‘Nothing to hide - stakeholders defend economic benefits of Dry Harbour mining’, written by Janet Silvera and Jovan Johnson in The Sunday Gleaner dated November 15, 2020.

Having read the article, I find that Prime Minister Andrew Holness has no regard for the preservation of the environment, nor does he trust the advice of the expert environmentalist from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) or the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET). As an environmental science teacher in the public sector, I am in agreement with the environmentalist who have spoken out against the permit granted to Bengal Development Limited to conduct quarrying and mining in the Dry Harbour Mountains. This type of activity will cause irreparable damage, depleting the mineral resources in the area, uprooting and killing unique plant species that cannot be found anywhere else in the island, and even the world, and destroy the habitat of indigenous and endangered animal species. No amount of money or “economic investment” should allow the prime minister to reverse the decision of the experts on such a matter. His actions have no doubt undermined the efforts of NEPA in protecting the environment and shows that he has no confidence in the advice and/or recommendation of the experts.

As we are reminded, a people that forgets its past is doomed to repeat it. The same quarrying and mining that is being proposed was done with bauxite. Where are we now with that mineral resource? It is depleted, has caused great pollution which has led to grave environmental degradation and has left many people in ill health. Is this really what the highest-positioned political leader wants for the people he swore to place on a path of prosperity? Frankly speaking, J$635 million in taxes and 100 temporary jobs from Bengal Development Limited is not worth the environmental impacts that will occur from quarrying and mining in the Dry Harbour Mountains. In fact, we should make the area protected as was proposed by Dr George Proctor in 1969.

If the Government needs alternative ideas as to how it can kick-start the economy in a pandemic, we can start looking at areas such as:

1. Agriculture – It is full time that Jamaica diversifies and builds agricultural resilience. For far too long we have been importing food that is grown locally. Let us start exporting more than we import.

2. Learn from our Caribbean neighbours, Grand Cayman and St Lucia, and develop technologies and our banking service to offer offshore banking to the world.

3. Improve our telecommunications offerings; invest in technology and innovation that will have the globe seeking services that Jamaica can provide in these areas.

4. Let us stop burning our dumps and use them to develop biomethane production plants to supply the country with renewable energy that we can use for fuel and electricity, which can also be used to drive manufacturing and production.

Let us preserve and sustain our natural environment, learn from our past, and make decisions with our environment at the forefront of our minds. At this time, with climate change a rising concern, it is not the time to further degrade our environment. Let us think and act environmental care, not degradation.

DELTA WRIGHT

Assistant Lecturer – Environmental Science

Montego Bay Community College

dwright@mbcc.edu.jm