Restrict CHEC's involvement in Goat Islands assessment - Wheatley
DR ANDREW Wheatley, the opposition spokes-person on science, ICT, digital economy development and the environment, has argued for China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC) to be kept out of the process of engaging a firm to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) at the Goat Islands.
Wheatley, contributing to the 2014-2015 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, said the State should ensure that the entity which will undertake the EIA is not contracted directly by the potential investor.
"Such an entity should simply pay over the required resources to a regulatory agency, but not be involved in the process beyond that," Wheatley said.
China Harbour has proposed to use the Goat Islands, located off the coast of Old Harbour, St Catherine, as a trans-shipment port as part of the proposed logistics hub.
The Government has been in discussions with China Harbour for the use of the area. Dr Omar Davies, the works minister, has told Parliament that the Port Authority of Jamaica and CHEC and have arrived at an initial framework agreement that provides the general terms and conditions under which the discussions will continue.
Wheatley said on Tuesday that there must be full disclosure regarding the planned development and the ongoing negotiations with the Chinese.
Davies has said the proposal from China Harbour is that the scope of the first phase of the project will include the development of an industrial park, which will carry on the operations associated with storage, assembling and packaging of goods in light industries; heavy industry manufacturing; information technology; and skills training.
It will also include the laying and development of infra-structure facilities to include bridge, roads within the project area; pipelines and water storage facilities; as well as the dredging and land reclamation activities to create the port and suitable access channel to the port.
Already, a scoping study has been conducted in the Portland Bight Protected Area in which the Goat Islands fall, which found that the Goat Islands are not pristine and untouched environmentally. It found that the area has been previously dredged and the spoils have contributed to the current land formation observed between the two islands.
China Harbour has applied to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) for a beach control licence in order to begin its geotechnical investigation and the engineering survey, which are necessary to determine the feasibility of the project.
Davies had said the technical feasibility study was expected to be completed by the end of April. The preliminary designs for the first phase of the project are currently under way and is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
Davies has said it is anticipated that the project will be sufficiently defined after the completion of the preliminary designs to allow China Harbour to make a presentation to NEPA, to seek the requisite terms of reference for EIA of the project.