Environmental Stakeholders in Negril Support Breakwater Plan

Photo: JIS Photographer CEAC Solutions Limited representative, Jessica Stewart, makes a presentation at a community meeting at the Negril Community Centre on July 29, where the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the construction of breakwaters to protect the Negril coastline was discussed.

Story Highlights

  • Two environmentalists in Negril are expressing support for the plan by the Government to construct breakwaters to protect the resort town’s famous white sand beach.
  • Breakwaters are offshore structures of concrete or stone built to protect harbours and marinas from wave action and to help prevent beach erosion.
  • The plan is to construct two offshore breakwater structures in the Long Bay area, with a view to preventing any future erosion of the Negril coastline.

Two environmentalists in Negril are expressing support for the plan by the Government to construct breakwaters to protect the resort town’s famous white sand beach.

Breakwaters are offshore structures of concrete or stone built to protect harbours and marinas from wave action and to help prevent beach erosion.

The plan is to construct two offshore breakwater structures in the Long Bay area, with a view to preventing any future erosion of the Negril coastline, which surveys show has an erosion rate of 0.5 – one metre per annum. The structures will reduce wave action, protect the coastline and allow for beach accretion.

Beach nourishment will also be implemented, over the medium to long-term to resuscitate the area and enhance the tourism product. The breakwaters, which will be approximately 1.5 kilometres offshore, will be submerged, therefore not visible from the beach.

Chairman of the Negril Area Environmental Protection Trust, Kenrick Davis, said that the building of the structures will benefit the area.

“It is my belief that the first thing you have to do is to put in the breakwater. The methodology you use for the breakwater, then that is to be decided, but the fact is, it has to be done, and it is common sense,” he stated.

Mr. Davis was speaking to JIS News on Tuesday, July 29, following a public meeting held at the Negril Community Centre, to discuss the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the construction of the breakwaters, which will be built under the Government of Jamaica (GOJ)/ Adaptation Fund Programme.

The initiative is being implemented by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in collaboration with the National Works Agency (NWA), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Some hoteliers in Negril have raised concern about the plan, noting that putting in the structures could affect the natural environment, as well as create an eyesore. They instead, propose that beach nourishment be undertaken.

Chairman of the Negril Enhancement Foundation, and Director of Project for the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society, Lenbert Williams, expressed full support for the construction of the breakwaters before any beach nourishment is done, stating that it will be a “big risk” to do otherwise.

“The ultimate scenario, according to the (EIA), is a comprehensive approach, where you build the breakwater, you re-nourish, and then you deal with the underlying situation like the nutrients and other land-based activity run-off that is overwhelming the coral reefs,” he stated.

He described the approach of some of the Negril residents to the project as emotional rather than practical.

Christopher Burgess of CEAC Solutions Limited, which designed the engineering solution for the breakwater structures, said that Negril beach is at the “top of the list” in terms of erosion rate.

He pointed out that an integrated plan for the protection of the area recommended nine breakwaters, five offshore and four near shore, plus beach nourishment of 500,000 cubic metres.

He said that focus is being placed on two of the five offshore breakwaters as “they are expected to give more sand accretion for the amount of investment involved”.

As it relates to the meeting, Mr. Burgess told JIS News that it was “very good”, as the residents are now better informed. He expressed confidence that they will give their full support to the project.

He said that NEPA will continue to evaluate the EIA and engineering study, and should make a decision within the next few months.

Mr. Burgess said that hopefully a modified document will be approved by the end of the year for the work to proceed.

 

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