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Holness: EIA for Cockpit Country mining ready

Published:Tuesday | August 13, 2019 | 12:22 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

Prime Minister Andrew Holness recently announced that the long-awaited environmental impact assessment that will inform his administration’s decision on mining in the Cockpit Country is now completed.

Delivering the keynote address on the final day of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon, Holness declared that no decision has been made in regards to mining in the environmentally sensitive area.

He said the Government he leads had taken into consideration the objections by non-governmental organisations and residents of Trelawny and the wider Jamaica who are vehemently opposed to the granting of bauxite mining licences to Noranda Bauxite company to operate within the boundaries of the Cockpit Country.

“We hear the cries of the people about the preservation of those areas, and that is why we have said before, there can’t be any contemplation of anything such as mining or any environmentally damaging practices. Those things must thoroughly be studied and there is now a process, which I gather has now been completed, of the conduct of an environmental impact assessment and that will come to us.

“That doesn’t mean that any decision will be made. All it means is that we have followed a process and I want it to be absolutely clear to the Jamaican citizens that this Government is the Government of the environment,” he emphasised.

Defended Party’s record

The prime minister then went on to defend the Jamaica Labour Party’s stewardship of the environment, in making his case.

“When there was the prospect of a fort being built on Goat Islands, again another environmentally sensitive asset; when there was the prospect of using coal to bauxite operations in this country, it was this Government that stopped it. So we are not the Government that will trade off economic benefit for environmental cost. That is not this Government,” he declared.

The prime minister, however, steered clear of the Port Royal Cruise Terminal Development, slated to come on stream by January 2020, to which the Jamaica Environment Trust is raising strong objections. Issues such as the availability of sufficient potable water, solid waste management, as well as the need for sewage treatment, have dominated the discourse.

Residents of Port Royal have also called into question the environmental soundness of the project.