Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Landilo gas plant battle heads to court

Published:Sunday | March 26, 2017 | 3:00 AMMark Titus

A Westmoreland resident is headed to court as he continues the fight to prevent a petroleum storage and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) dispensing facility from being established near his home in Llandilo.

Armed with a report from the Office of the Public Defender which recommended that the developer, Andrew Williams, should find a more suitable location for his plant, returning resident Ashton Pitt will be asking the courts for a judicial review of a decision by National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to grant permission for the facility.

"Yes, I was advised that NEPA will be granting the permits to the developer, but I will be seeking an injunction and will be fighting this to the very end," Pitt told The Sunday Gleaner last Friday.

"My $25 million (investment) cannot just go like this. I will stand up for my right as a Jamaican citizen," added Pitt.

too close

The Sunday Gleaner first reported the concern of the residents located near the development in an area of the community known as Farm Pen, who were apprehensive about the establishment of the facility, which includes a block-making plant, being so close to their houses.

The Westmoreland Parish Council did not share the safety concerns of the residents, but the public defender launched a probe after receiving an official complaint.

"NEPA has notified us (of its decision) and we, in turn, have requested copies of documents giving Andrew Williams permission to operate," a source at Office of the Public Defender told The Sunday Gleaner.

In her report, Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry charged that the local government body, which is chaired by Bertel Moore, should explain, among other things, its failure to respond to a letter of objection to the commercial development in the area, or to even forward the objection to NEPA for evaluation.

"The safety of the community has not been carefully considered and stands to be greatly compromised as the development has inherent hazardous features," the report stated.

"The complainant has been treated unfairly and his rights were violated," said the report.

The Sunday Gleaner had been told by NEPA's head, Peter Knight, that his entity was advised, by way of a letter dated July 22, 2015, from the municipal corporation, that there were no objections to the development.

But Pitt, whose property is closest to the development, told our news team that he was not consulted, and had hand-delivered several letters of objection, including one written to Moore, but received no response.

Moore has stoutly defended the municipal council's decision.

"One must bear in mind that the area allows for a mix of commercial and residential; that the developer is a legal owner of his property; and, more important, that most of the persons in that area are squatters," said Moore.

Mark.titus@gleanerjm.com