Letter of the Day: Release Goat Islands survey
THE EDITOR, Sir:
It has been over a year since the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) granted China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) the beach licence to conduct geotechnical surveys on and around the Goat Islands in the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA), to determine if the area was viable for the trans-shipment hub enclave. To date, no information or report has been published on the findings and furnished to the public.
In the interest of transparency, oversight and accountability, we request that NEPA, the agency charged with the duties of carrying out protection of the environment, and Environment Minister Robert Pickersgill, to produce any and all findings of the core samples taken from public property/locations in the PBPA.
As both NEPA and Minister Pickersgill are responsible for the environmental laws of Jamaica, and regardless of which publicly held corporation may hold title, the facts are that the Portland Bight Protected Area belongs to the people of Jamaica by law, and it may not be leased, altered, or destroyed without notification and input/approval from the public, and may not be developed by law under Section 13 (3)(I) of the Jamaican Constitution's Charter of Freedoms & Rights, which states:
The right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment that is free from:
a) The threat of injury or damage from environmental abuse and:
b) Degradation of ecological heritage.
Among the other issues of local laws and international agreements that pertain specifically to the Portland Bight Protected Area (some 86), there have been no public meetings on these, nor has there been any announcement of such made by the Government.
We again urge the Government of Jamaica to revisit the planned development of the PBPA/Goat Islands and to relocate the project in an area that will have a less negative impact on the environment and biodiversity. We also urge this administration to release the deferment of the UN Man and Biosphere Reserve Program for the Portland Bight Protected Area.
NEPA, Minister Pickersgill, as well as Prime Minister Simpson Miller, have all recognised that Jamaica, among other small island developing nations, faces challenges when it comes to climate change and disaster readiness. They have all stated at one time or another that the protection of Jamaica's coastlines are essential as a first line of defence. We expect that they fully understand the words they speak and are not just using them as sound bites to make it seem as if it is a high priority to them.
STEVEN G. SMITH
President, JADE Foundation Inc