JET calls for more info on Port Royal cruise ship pier

Monday, February 11, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is calling on the Government to provide more information on its plans for a cruise ship pier at Port Royal in Kingston.

JET, in a statement today, bemoaned what it said was the lack of detailed information in the public domain regarding the development, which is proposed to be constructed at the Old Coal Wharf in the Palisadoes Port Royal Protected Area (PPRPA) in Kingston.

The environmental organisation noted that the area is a RAMSAR wetland of international importance, and metres away from a proposed World Heritage Site – Port Royal.

It said very little details have been forthcoming on the cruise port development despite requests for information from two state agencies — the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).

As such, JET is urging the Government to present the public with a detailed description of what is planned for the Port Royal Cruise Port development, including an assessment of its potential impact on the environment and the activities of those who live, work and travel on the Palisadoes Strip in Kingston.

“JET is gravely concerned about the potential impact a cruise ship port and its associated infrastructure could have on the PPRPA, which is already under threat from a variety of sources including illegal dumping, wetland destruction and illegal settlements.

“While JET recognises that Port Royal has suffered from inadequate upkeep and investment over many years, the kind of mass market tourism typically associated with cruise ship ports in the Caribbean is not appropriate for fragile ecosystems and important historical sites.

“The impacts of a cruise ship pier do not stop at the pier structure itself, even one with a reduced ecological footprint as the proposed Port Royal floating cruise ship pier is purported to be. The carrying capacity of the proposed site to handle cruise ship visitors must also be considered,” said the statement.

JET informed that following multiple Access to Information requests in 2018, last October it received copies of the PAJ's application for a beach license to NEPA to construct a SeaWalkTM floating cruise ship pier at the Old Coal Wharf in Port Royal.

“The document provides little information about the larger cruise port/terminal project and no assessment of the potential impact of the pier to the PPRPA. At a meeting of the PPRPA Management Committee, at which JET was represented in December 2018, a representative of NEPA confirmed that a request for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project had been sent to the PAJ; however at the time of writing there has been no further update from either NEPA or the PAJ on when an EIA will be done or when public consultation on the development will take place,” the statement continued.

The environmental trust also noted two recent news items referring to developments regarding the proposed Port Royal Cruise Ship Pier.

“On February 6 it was reported that Orion Marine Construction has been awarded a US$7.5m contract to construct the pier, and on February 8 it was reported that the pier is to be completed by September 2018, and that the PAJ had secured a January 2020 visit from the Discovery 2 cruise vessel operated by Marella Cruises; the Discovery 2 is reported to have a capacity of over 1,800 passengers,” JET said.

The proposed pier was also the subject of a Tweet by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on February 8 announcing: “Port Royal's SeaWalk floating pier system is ready! (...) It is currently in-transit to Jamaica, and will arrive here next week.”

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