Tue | Jan 19, 2021

New twist in Dovecot expansion dispute

Published:Friday | June 26, 2020 | 12:26 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer

Member of Parliament for St Catherine West Central Dr Christopher Tufton has suggested that an independent review be done of the technical study used by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to approve the permit for the 71-acre expansion of the burial grounds.

This is the latest twist in the long-standing dispute between the residents in the area and the management of the Dovecot Memorial Park.

Tufton made the proposal at a meeting on Wednesday with residents of the main housing developments in the constituency, who are in strong opposition to the development.

The residents have voiced their concerns, including the potential for decomposing bodies contaminating the main underground water sources, in addition to the devaluing of their properties, the dust and noise nuisance from periodic blasting associated with the expansion, as well as the congestion on St John’s Road on funeral days caused by long lines of traffic.

Further, the residents are also peeved over the proposed Meadowrest expansion, of which an application has been submitted to NEPA for 19 acres of land to expand the cemetery. The management of the burial site has indicated that the cemetery was running out of space, having to do some 2,000 interments annually.

Dr Carlton Campbell, chief environmentalist, carried out a technical study for Dovecot which concluded that the underground water would not be affected because of the measures being undertaken, such as putting six inches of limestone at the bottom of the vaults and the construction of testing wells downstream to periodically test the water.

However, Tufton was not happy when he found out that there was no system in place to monitor the water sources.

“I will have to engage an independent technical expert to assess the technical study. It is alarming that NEPA does not have a monitoring system for the assessment of the water,” Tufton said, after Gregory Bennett, director of application management at NEPA, revealed that the entity did not have a monitoring system in place.

“There is a high burden on the operators of the facility to ensure that all the criteria are met, and right now there is a lack of confidence in the technical study and the implementation of the operation seem to be in breach of the permit,” said Tufton, after learning that three test wells that should have been constructed to periodically test the water for pollutants were not done.

He said that if the water source was polluted it would become a health issue, so there has to be a monitoring system in place.

Ralston Wilson, councillor for the Ginger Ridge division, said that the municipal corporation was excluded from the consultation.