Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Wheatley says no application for coal-fired plant in St Elizabeth

Published:Wednesday | August 3, 2016 | 8:00 PM
Wheatley: There was no approval or anything like that done. They (JET) need to get their facts straight before they comment.

Energy Minister, Dr Andrew Wheatley, says no application has been made for construction of a coal-fired plant in St. Elizabeth.

Mining minister, Mike Henry recently announced the sale of the old Alpart plant at Nain in St. Elizabeth to the Chinese-based Jiuquan Iron & Steel (Group) Company Limited (JISCO).

He said JISCO would be investing US$2 billion to establish an industrial zone at Nain, employing more than 3,000 people.

It was announced that the industrial zone will comprise bauxite mines, an alumina refinery, a coal-fired power plant, a local electricity network, rolling wire mills, and a range of aluminium products, among other enterprises.

Since then, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) has come out in strong opposition to the coal plant on the basis that it will cause harm to human health and the environment.

But Wheatley says JET is misinformed.

"There was no approval or anything like that done. They need to get their facts straight before they comment," he said.

"There is no application."

 

In the meantime, Wheatley says Jamaica has environmental rules which must be adhered to by investors.

 

Energy Minister, Dr. Andrew Wheatley

In the meantime, the JET has declared that the Government cannot be relied on to hold international investors to Jamaica’s environmental standards.

JET says it has spent many years monitoring the effectiveness of environmental management and enforcement in Jamaica.

It also says based on its analysis, the environmental regulatory framework in Jamaica is neither capable of nor willing to compel large foreign investors to comply with their environmental permits and licenses.

In fact, JET says the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) still states that it relies on voluntary compliance from investors.

The group asserts that this strategy has demonstrably failed.

JET says it is against this background that it is wary of assurances by the Government that the environment will be protected in relation to the plant planned for St. Elizabeth.