As concerns rise over the proposed limestone quarrying in Puerto Bueno Mountain (which now, it transpires, will also involve a commercial development and “eco-tourism”?) here is a petition on change.org opposing the ministerial decision to approve a permit. Prime Minister Andrew Holness signed off on this, and stoutly defended his decision in a speech in the parish of St. Ann last Thursday afternoon. He outlines at great length his “pragmatic” considerations beginning at 38:34 in the video.
Here is the link to the petition, and the text below, explaining why the ministerial decision in July this year, overturning one made just two months earlier, must be reconsidered… Please sign, and please share widely!
Most Honourable Prime Minister, we are calling on you to reverse the July 2020 ministerial decision to approve a permit for quarrying and mining at Dry Harbour Mountain, also called Puerto Bueno Mountain, in keeping with your stated commitments to environmental sustainability and fighting Climate Change, and your recognition that “our natural heritage including our biodiversity and ecosystems are an important part of our material heritage,” and “our tourism product and the economic activity around it heavily depends on our environment and climate.”
In May 2020 a quarry application was refused by the Government’s regulatory agencies for seven solid reasons, including:
- The impact and loss of biodiversity and natural resources in an area of environmental significance and unique biodiversity that is irreplaceable;
- The proposed development is contrary to and not in keeping with the provisions of the St. Ann Confirmed Development Order, 2000;
- The area is not designated a Quarry Zone.
The project would have deleterious impacts on the environment of surrounding areas, air quality, public health, the hydrology, and the forested area, and would devastate existing and future tourism enterprises in the area, including over 50 resort villas with their many employees.
We urge you to engage local stakeholders in a meaningful process to see this unique limestone forest ecosystem protected and managed as a habitat conservation and research area for indigenous and endemic flora and fauna; a study site for fossils and geological features; a spectacular natural landscape; an archaeological site of importance to Jamaica’s cultural heritage; and an area of priceless value to the local residents for their quality of life as well as nature-based recreation and ecotourism opportunities.
- Although you, Prime Minister, have stated that any damage to the environment will be mitigated by the 72 conditions of the permit, we note the position of technical experts that:
- The impacts from a quarry of this size (50 hectares) cannot be effectively mitigated;
- No source of water has been identified for the project;
- A dry limestone forest ecosystem cannot be restored;
- Relocation of individual species would be futile if it were even possible;
- This area is earmarked for protection under the St. Ann Confirmed Development Order of 2000.
The application for quarrying was initially refused because it is absolutely incompatible with Jamaica’s framework of environmental policies, plans, laws and regulations that are in place to govern land use decision-making. The government of Jamaica has a duty to assess project applications based on how they comply with these provisions, and we remind you that there is no application and no EIA for the huge, multi-phase project just announced as the “ultimate goal” of the project by Bengal Development Limited / Jamaica World.
Prime Minister, please reconsider the decision to allow this project, and withdraw the permit!