This is, again, disturbing news involving tourist developments that are already under way – in breach of Jamaica’s environmental laws. I trust that swift action will be taken. Here is the Jamaica Environment Trust’s press release.
April 5, 2016
Having received reports of concerns about the construction and renovation of both Royalton Hotels (one in Trelawny at Coopers Pen, the other in Negril on the old Grand Lido site) the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) used the Access to Information Act to request the monitoring reports done by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) between June 2015 and February 2016 for both hotels. These reports revealed an unacceptably low level of compliance with environmental permits – in the case of Negril, less than 35% of the conditions were adhered to. The Negril breaches concerned failures to submit a raft of plans – of 11 required plans, nine had not been submitted, although construction was well underway. Additionally, construction was not even in compliance with the two plans that were submitted, and there was failure to properly contain sewage effluent and other types of run off and materials, and failure to conduct water quality monitoring. JET reminds the public that last year, construction on the Royalton Hotel in Negril started without the required approval from the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) and therefore received a Cessation Order from NEPA in November 2015. NEPA has since issued at least two warning notices to this hotel, but the breaches remained unaddressed up to January 2016.
In the case of the Royalton Hotel in Trelawny, a similar pattern was seen of failure to submit required plans and reports, most significantly concerning the operation of the sewage treatment plant and construction of towers in breach of the specified height. NEPA had issued at least six warning notices to the Trelawny Royalton hotel, which were essentially ignored. Breaches identified by NEPA enforcement personnel in October 2015 continued to be unaddressed in February 2016.
JET understands that this matter is to go before the new NRCA Board at its first meeting in April.
“It is hard to understand how an overseas investor has operated and continues to operate with such flagrant disregard of Jamaica’s environmental laws,” said JET’s CEO, Diana McCaulay. “What is NEPA’s role and function? What is the point of issuing environmental permits and licenses if they are not going to be enforced?”
JET calls on the Prime Minister, now the portfolio minister for the environment, to take immediate steps to enforce Jamaica’s environmental laws in this and all other cases of non compliance.
Diana McCaulay, CEO, JET
Nastassia Robinson, Legal Officer, JET