“Oh no! Not again!” I hear you cry. What do our government agencies not understand about this consultation/approval process? In this case, the plant was reportedly built and operating months BEFORE public consultations – scheduled now for next week. When are the relevant agencies going to get this in the right order? When are they going to “do better”? NB The Alcar Construction and Haulage plant is to supply materials for the planned South Coast Highway, to be built by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC). I also note that the community of Bull Bay has suffered from numerous environmental problems over the years – air pollution and flooding are two that spring to mind. Here is JET’s statement on this matter.
JET Objects to Public Consultation Taking Place After Alcar Asphalt Plant Has Been Built
In December 2018, Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) received a complaint from the Palm Beach Estate Citizens Association in Bull Bay, St Andrew regarding an Alcar Asphalt Batching plant, reported to have been operating in their community since October 2018. The residents’ complaint to JET outlined the numerous issues associated with the operations of the plant including severe impacts on the respiratory health of those living nearby.
Attempts in December 2018 and January 2019 by both the PBECA and JET to reach out to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), objecting to the plant, received no response. On January 29, 2019, JET discovered the notification of a public meeting in Bull Bay regarding the Alcar Asphalt Plant scheduled for February 12 posted on the NEPA website. A link to the design brief of the plant was also posted on the NEPA website and referred to as a “non-EIA”. Then on January 30, a news item reported that the Alcar plant had been “put on hold” pending public consultations on its environmental impacts.
Technical reports, environmental impact assessments and public consultations are tools designed to guide NEPA’s decision-making on proposed developments. To allow a developer to carry out public consultations and technical studies after a project has already been constructed makes a mockery of NEPA’s development approval process. JET also objects to regularization of illegal construction by NEPA, which provides a perverse incentive for developers to break the law.