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Negril breakwater project needs greater transparency, says Wheatley

Friday, August 22, 2014

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Opposition Spokesman on the Environment, Dr Andrew Wheatley, says the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) must public the reasons behind its decision on the use of breakwaters to halt erosion of the Negril shoreline.

Dr Wheatley reiterated the Opposition’s position that beach nourishment is the preferred approach to rehabilitating the Negril shoreline.

“We appreciate and support the need to urgently preserve and rehabilitate the prized Negril beachfront, but we are seriously concerned about how these efforts are being handled,” Dr Wheatley said.

Dr Wheatley pointed out that the Jamaica Labour Party’s position is supported by an analysis of global trends in coastline protection, a review of the position taken by NEPA on the issue, and consultations with Negril stakeholders.

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He outlined that among the main areas of concern are: The absence of an Economic Impact study into the effects of pursuing the highly technical and disruptive project that the Government says will run for nine months; an incomplete Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA); the lack of genuine consultation by the Government with Negril stakeholders, including hoteliers; and an apparent gross lack of concern for the very serious issues raised by them in the public domain.

“As far as the consultation exercise is concerned, it would be disingenuous for the authorities to position themselves as consulting on the process, while not reflecting the concerns of the people in the decisions taken,” said Dr Wheatley.

“ It is our view that the people of Negril should be the primary forces of influence on the decision-making process, particularly the stakeholders in Negril’s vibrant tourism industry who have suggested that a breakwater mechanism will not only have a negative impact on the environment and aesthetics in Negril, but on tourism activities as well.”

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