JET objects to Govt's handling of Port Royal cruise port project

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JET objects to Govt's handling of Port Royal cruise port project

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Environment watchdog group, Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), is raising strong concerns regarding the government's handling of the proposed Port Royal Cruise Port Terminal Development project following a public meeting to discuss the finding of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The meeting was held last Friday, July 12 at Fort Charles in Port Royal.

“Despite several statements from representatives of NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency) and PAJ (Port Authority of Jamaica) during the meeting that the project had not yet been approved, JET has copies of five beach licenses which have already been issued by NEPA to PAJ for the project and work including coral relocation has already taken place at the site,” JET CEO Suzanne Stanley said in a statement.

JET is calling for all works being carried out on the cruise port by the PAJ to be suspended until the matter has been resolved.

According to JET, it has also called on NEPA to “carry out its duties and protect the public interest in this matter by ensuring that the concerns of all stakeholders are comprehensively addressed by the project proponent before any other permit or license for the cruise port development is granted by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) board.”

“The Jamaican public can only infer that the EIA and public meeting are mere formalities, and that the Port Royal Cruise Port is a done deal,” Stanley added.

JET also highlighted several inconsistencies between what was being presented by the PAJ at the July 12 meeting, and what was contained in the EIA document.

For instance, the PAJ maintained that there would be no wetland removal; however, the EIA states that “the mangrove area on the shore is the last remaining stand of old Red Mangrove growth on the shoreline at Port Royal. The revetment of the shoreline will…alter the coastal habitat by destroying the mangrove strip to the east and west of the anchor point.”

“The public is given 30 days after the public meeting to send in written comments on the EIA to NEPA, so that is what JET is working on right now,” said Stanley. “Our preliminary review has left several questions unanswered,” she said.

Among JET's concerns are:

1.The EIA does not cover all project phases and represents a piecemeal approach to development. Project components planned for phase 2 of the Port Royal Cruise Port development, such as the train and rail system to take visitors into Port Royal and along the Palisadoes have not even been addressed.

2.The cruise ship terminal is to be established in the Palisadoes Port Royal Protected Area (PPRPA) a Ramsar wetland of international importance, a Protected National Heritage Site, and is described as “one of the most important archaeological sites in the Caribbean and a unique site worldwide.” Despite the litany of negative environmental impacts of the cruise port development described in the EIA, the document does not present an alternative location for the port in Kingston, i.e. outside the protected area.

3. Pressure on Port Royal's already inadequate potable water supply and sewage system from this project promises to be substantial. PAJ's response to this concern raised at the July 12 meeting indicated that the first phase of the cruise port project will address the needs of the cruise port, with the second phase addressing the needs of Port Royal. JET is extremely concerned to learn that the sewage and water supply upgrades for the town of Port Royal will not be undertaken before the cruise ship pier is open.

The deadline for public comments on the Port Royal Cruise Port Terminal EIA is August 9. The EIA can be viewed on the NEPA and PAJ websites.

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