Environmental group raises concerns over Negril resort

THE Jamaica Environmental Advocacy Network (JEAN) has expressed concern about the proposed building of a 6,228-room development resort on 361 acres of land on the Negril Peninsula.

The proposed development will cover a large parcel of land on Negril's west end, and the environmental network, in a statement this week, said irreparable damage would be done to secondary and primary forest of the most threatened kind in the Caribbean and Jamaica if construction of the resort goes ahead.

"This tropical dry forest includes small, highly specialised ecosystems, which are unique to Jamaica and the rest of the world. Negril Hill was an island for extended periods of time; hence its very special evolutionary history of which little is known," the statement said.

The group said an environmental impact assessment (EIA) conducted by consultants hired by the development company failed to provide a complete assessment of either the plants and animals on the site.

"The section of the EIA that deals with environmental impacts and mitigation is wholly inadequate, failing to address sewage or drainage impacts sufficiently," the environment group said.

JEAN also bashed a proposal by the consultants that coral be relocated to other sections of the coastline.

"The EIA proposes coral transplantation as a mitigation measure, but fails to provide any information on the success of coral relocation. In fact, according to experts, this is a risky and costly approach with a spotty record of success," said the group.

JEAN claims that the proposal to construct a marina and alter the shoreline, by dredging and building five sandy beaches, is a recipe for disaster and would result in negative effects on air quality, allow invasive species to take over the area, hazardous waste management, oil spills and storm water management.

The group was also concerned about the impact on Negril's cultural heritage.

"According to the journal of the Archaeological Society of Jamaica, there are five Taino cave sites in Negril, four of which are burial caves, and one of which had a petroglyph (carving)," the release stated.

JEAN also urged the National Environment and Planning Agency to call for a new EIA to be conducted and for sections of the site to be declared as conservation areas as well as the immediate stoppage of cutting and bulldozing.

Source: The Jamiaca Observer

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