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Jacks Hill watch - NEPA vows to get tough on developers

Published:Sunday | June 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMKeisha Hill
A tractor contracted by the National Works Agency clears a section of Jacks Hill Road in St Andrew which was blocked by a landslide caused by tropical storm Gustav in 2008. The Auditor General has said that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) does not have information on where all the resources availble for use, in the event of a disaster, are located.

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is vowing to get tougher on persons wanting to build in the upscale Jacks Hill community in St Andrew.

According to NEPA, persons wanting to build on Jacks Hill will now have to meet stricter environmental guidelines as it moves to address years of wanton disregard for guidelines in the area which is prone to environmental issues, including earthquakes and landslides.

Already a raft of documents, including the draft KSAC (Kingston and St Andrew Corporation) Development Order now under review, and the Hillside Development Manual for Jamaica, drafted by the Mines and Geology Division in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, have been identified to manage developments in sensitive areas such as Jacks Hill.

"Currently, these documents form the material considerations in the development approval process which will include looking at the type of structures, density, floor heights, etc., and will also outline the conditions of approval," Sheries Simpson, manager of the Projects Branch at NEPA, told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.

According to Simpson, NEPA, in conjunction with the local planning authorities including the KSAC, will monitor and enforce these conditions particularly during construction phases.

"If developments do not conform to the conditions, the authorities can serve stop order notices. What has occurred as a consequence in this area, more than any other, is a moratorium on development to maintain low densities and to promote natural resources conservation," said Simpson.