Government to Create Single Planning and Environment Agency


Prime Minister Bruce Golding is pressing ahead with plans to create a single planning and environment agency. The framework could be implemented by year end to streamline the process of approving development plans.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a recent stakeholders meeting with government institutions and environment protection agencies held at Jamaica House.
The meeting was called to look at ways of correcting the gap between economic development and the preservation of the environment. A team has been established to review the discussions and recommendations of the meeting and submit a report to Mr. Golding. A submission would thereafter be taken to Cabinet proposing the establishment of the single regulatory entity.
Mr. Golding said there are too many regulatory agencies scattered in different locations and that this was not only time consuming, but often led to ambiguity and uncertainty about standards and procedural requirements. He said his commitment to unbundle the environmental approval process and give regulatory agencies 90 days in which to respond to proposals, was not intended to open up a floodgate, as development must be sustained and supported by an environment that will not deteriorate.
Mr. Golding said however, that undue delay would not be tolerated at the expense of job creation, as ways would have to be found to facilitate development in order to create jobs and provide better lives for Jamaicans. He said monitoring and regulation of projects needed improvement and sanctions applied where developers do not comply with the terms and conditions of the development order granted to them.
Minister of Health and the Environment, Rudyard Spencer, who spearheaded the discussion segment of the meeting, said balancing the environment and development was critical to sustainable development.
He said his Ministry was determined to adopt a proactive approach to managing the environment to ensure its preservation for generations to come.
The environment stakeholders included personnel from the Ministry of Health and Environment, National Environmental and Planning Agency, Urban Development Corporation and the Forestry Department. Stakeholders from NGOs included the Jamaica Environment Trust, Northern Jamaica Conservation Association and the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation. The stakeholders welcomed the meeting with the Prime Minister, noting that it made them very hopeful that there is a future for the environment.

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