This press release from the Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group is not just about environmental issues. It is about transparency, proper consultation, and democracy.
As we in Jamaica are living under restrictions during the COVID-19 era – notably, the limitations on gatherings – we cannot possibly attend in-person consultations (which have often lasted for hours in the past, in an indoor setting). Moreover, many Jamaicans in rural areas are having challenges with connectivity. So, it is even more critical that consultations with stakeholders should be thorough, substantial (with adequate time for all questions!), timely – and most importantly, should involve all stakeholders. The fate of Cockpit Country is a national issue of considerable importance with far-reaching consequences for Jamaica’s future sustainability.
Please see the press release, the text of the Open Letter and signatories below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
29 October 2020
COCKPIT COUNTRY STAKEHOLDERS CALL FOR THOROUGH EIA CONSULTATION PROCESS FOR MINING PERMITS
In an open letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) signed by 15 civil groups and 71 individuals, the Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group (CCSG) is expressing concern about the conduct of virtual public consultations during the COVID-19 period. The letter points out that many Jamaicans, particularly in rural areas, do not have ready access to the internet and are likely to be excluded from virtual meetings. The signatories are concerned to ensure that the requirements for meaningful public consultations are not watered down or avoided entirely.
The context is the imminent public consultation process as part of the conduct of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Noranda Special Mining Lease 173 in Trelawny and the border of St Ann, which the CCSG contends encroaches on Cockpit Country, although the area is outside of the designated Cockpit Country Protected Area, announced by the Prime Minister in 2017.
The Open Letter makes the following suggestions:
• The public consultation for SML 173 should be broadcast on national television, as was done for the Montego Bay Bypass Road, as well as on radio. Questions should come in via different means (Zoom, WhatsApp, social media, text, phone call, e-mail) and once they contain no profanity, be displayed on the TV screen as the meeting progresses.
• ALL questions should be answered either during the meeting, whether the questions are read on the air or not, and/or presented in an Addendum to the EIA within 30 days of the date of the public meeting.
• This approach could also be bolstered by in person meetings in local communities in small numbers.
• Comments from the public should also be facilitated with a dedicated e-mail and allow for input to be sent by post.
“Because of COVID restrictions on gatherings, we are calling for special efforts to reach the rural residents of the area covered by Special Mining Lease 173, especially farmers, so that they can be fully informed of the potential impacts of bauxite mining on the environment, their communities and livelihoods,” said Wendy Lee of the Seven Oaks Sanctuary for Wildlife in St Ann. “They, along with other stakeholders, must be given an opportunity to provide input which must be taken into account in the final decision.”
The letter also requests information on the mechanism by which public concerns guide decision-making.
Please see the text of the letter and all signatories below.
Alvin Gallimore, journalist, St Ann resident Tel: 876-401-3066
Dr. Susan Koenig, Windsor Research Centre Tel: 876-997-3832
Wendy Lee, Seven Oaks Sanctuary for Wildlife Tel: 876-359-1505
Diana McCaulay, Board Chair, Jamaica Environment Trust Tel: 876-469-1315
Open Letter to Mr. Peter Knight, Chief Executive Officer, National Environment and Planning Agency
October 27, 2020
Mr. Peter Knight, Chief Executive Officer
National Environment and Planning Agency
10-11 Caledonia Avenue , Kingston 10
Dear Mr. Knight,
RE: Public consultations regarding bauxite mining during COVID-19 restrictions, specifically in relation to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for SML 173, proponent Noranda Jamaica Ltd.
The below groups and individuals realize that options for in person public consultations are limited during the COVID-19 pandemic but are determined that the requirements for meaningful public consultations are not watered down or avoided entirely. Many Jamaicans, particularly in rural areas, are not able to participate in virtual meetings and are therefore excluded from such arrangements.
We suggest that, at the very least, the public consultation for SML 173 should be broadcast on national television, as was done for the Montego Bay Bypass Road, as well as on radio. Questions should come in via different means (Zoom, WhatsApp, Social Media, text, phone call, e-mail) and once they contain no profanity, be displayed on the TV screen as the meeting progresses. ALL questions should be answered either during the meeting, whether the questions are read on the air or not, and/or presented in an Addendum to the EIA within 30 days of the date of the public meeting. This approach could also be bolstered by in person meetings in local communities in small numbers.
Comments from the public should also be facilitated with a dedicated e-mail and allow for input to be sent by post.
Our major concern is the mechanism by which public concerns guide decision-making, so we would like to hear from you in this regard.
We are sure you understand the far reaching nature of the decisions we take now on large scale mining projects in the context of the climate emergency and the steadfast resistance of many to bauxite mining in this and other areas.
Signed on behalf of the following agencies and individuals
Archaeological Society of Jamaica
Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation
Caribbean Women’s Regional Network
Caribbean Youth Environmental Network
Countrystyle Community Tourism Network/Villages
Jamaican Caves Organisation
Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust
Jamaica Environment Trust
Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals
Natural History Society of Jamaica
Queen’s Highway Citizens Association Ltd
Seven Oaks Sanctuary for Wildlife
Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency
The Cockpit Country Warriors
Windsor Research Centre
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|Zachary J. M. Beier||Lisa Gordon||Jan Pauel|
|Jacqueline Binns||Doris C. Gross||Julia Porter|
|Rhema Kerr Bjorkland||Deborah Harris||Denice O. Ramharrack|
|Jean Bramwell||Louise Henriques||Dr. Angela Ramsay|
|Audrey Brown||Anthony Holmes||Andrea Richards|
|Nicole Brown||Audrey Holmes||Caroline Richards|
|Rev. Kirk Brown||Trevor Hope||Cdr. Michael Rodriguez|
|Rev. Garfield Campbell||Anne Hopwood||Veronica Salter|
|Dr. Gail Codrington||Lyndon Johnson||Christopher Scott-Brown|
|Jane E. Cohen||Jennifer Jones||Robert Stephens|
|Dr. Marceline Collins-Figueroa||Frank E. Lawrence||Wayne Sutherland|
|Debbie Devonish||Wendy A. Lee||Dr. Ann Sutton|
|Hugh Dixon||Horace Levy||Samere Tansley|
|Dr. Jane Dodman||Emma Lewis||Prof. Elizabeth Thomas-Hope|
|Rev. Roy Dodman||Lisa Lindo||Ulla Wykoff Tomlinson|
|Leo Douglas||Ruth Loewe||Vaughan Turland|
|Peter Espeut||Elke Macdonald||Linette Vassell|
|Laura Facey||Shirley Mais||Adrian Watson|
|Dr. Esther Figueroa||Stephanie Martin||Judith Wedderburn|
|Bernadette Frankson||Diana McIntyre-Pike||Dawn Williams|
|Earl Gibson||Canon Garth Minott||Barbara Zampelli|
|Margaret Gibson||Carol Narcisse||Jeanette Calder|
|Joyce Glasgow||Hilary Nicholson|