Wed | Aug 24, 2016

Breakwater will build resilience in Negril

Published:Saturday | January 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

We have taken note of a calculated letter-writing campaign by selected stakeholders from Negril designed to mislead and confuse the public and, at times, denigrate the evidence-based and science-based decision arrived at by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority/National Environment and Planning Agency (NRCA/NEPA).

The latest missive from Ms Jane Issa appearing in your publication dated Wednesday, January 7, 2015 is another step in the campaign in the disinformation in their efforts to sway others away from the installation of reef extension (breakwaters) in Negril. This is being done without availing themselves of the associated evidence.

We take this opportunity to highlight and enumerate the 'misinformation' presented by the letter writer.

i. The Adaptation Fund Breakwater Project is not a 14-month project. In fact, the component of the project to address the construction of the reef extension will be approximately six to eight months.

ii. The boulders to be used in the construction will be sourced from a licensed quarry, will meet predetermined specifications, and will be cleaned and washed prior to being taken to the stockpile site.

iii. The project has a built-in maintenance plan. Maintenance will obviate the accumulation of algae and the corresponding effects mentioned.

iv. The breakwater is professionally designed by a local engineering outfit and was rigorously modelled and tested at the University of Delaware, United States, Centre for Applied Coastal Research. The centre recommended tweaking of the design to fit a 100-year return storm event. The boulders, therefore, are not expected to tumble and roll during a hurricane event.

v. Arguments are made about breakwaters in other jurisdictions, but I would refer the stakeholders to nearby Barbados which has successfully installed a similar offshore submerged breakwater structure to protect its beach (Rockley Beach).

vi. There are plans to address "the multitude of issues" mentioned by the letter writer and, similar to the grant from the Adaptation Fund, funding is being sourced from other external grant agencies to attend to the issues. NEPA has already secured approximately J$30 million from the Tourism Enhancement Fund to bolster its planning and environment-monitoring activities in Negril. Already, through the kind support of the European Union, $J22 million has been spent to replant 15000M2 of seagrass, install four sea-temperature recording devices and to install 19 artificial reef systems done in partnership with the leading hotel chain in the country (a combined cost of $90 million) and treatment of 250 metres of beach using the Shorelock(r) technology along the Norman Beach Park (Community Beach).

Incidentally, the same set of stakeholders objected to aspects of the work done under the EU Project.

Mr Editor, beach nourishment is not a sustainable solution in the absence of coastal protection or defence and, in the context of Jamaica's vulnerability to hydro-meteorological events. The decision by the NRCA/NEPA was properly considered and will offer Negril the best protection possible.

We wish that the selected stakeholders in Negril will avail themselves of the available documents, beginning with the report of the consultation prepared by Dr Barbara Carby on behalf of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ); review the substantial EIA report on the project; the breakwater structure design report and the Model-testing Technical Report presented by the University of Delaware, to understand that their concerns have all been considered and mitigation measures developed for the issues of concern to them.

We plan to make available a fulsome technical response on all the issues impacting Negril within a week.

Peter Knight

Chief Executive Officer/Government Town Planner

National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA)