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The government, private sector and environmental interests in the resort town of Negril, Westmoreland, have come together in a collaborative effort to remedy the long standing problem of beach erosion in that area.
Coordinated by Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, and Member of Parliament for Western Westmoreland, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, the meeting, which included several interest groups, took place at the Sandals Negril Beach Resort yesterday (November 17).
At a subsequent press conference, Dr. McNeill explained that the meeting was a very inclusive one, aimed at addressing the most important environmental issue affecting the Negril area at present.
Pointing out that a number of local organizations in the area had done studies and were undertaking their separate approaches, he added that only a coordinated and collaborative effort could adequately address the problem.
“So what we have done is we have formed a committee that will deal exclusively, primarily with the issue of beach erosion..the terms of reference of this committee are quite simple, their mission really is to reestablish the beach and to maintain it,” he explained.
The new 12-member committee comprises Kendrick Davis, and Nadia Ferguson from the Negril Environmental Protection Trust (NEPT); Jean Brown and Carl Hanson of the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society (NCRPS); Wayne Cummings, Ray Arthurs and Jean Spence-Jackson from the Negril Chamber of Commerce; Barry Reynolds from the Negril/Green Island Planning Authority; Evelyn Smith of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA); Daniel Grizzle from the Negril Resort Board, and Peter Kelly and Janet Hyde of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA). Barry Reynolds has been asked to act as the convener and coordinator for the first meeting of the committee, which will be held on November 22.
With some areas of the seven-mile stretch of beach more badly eroded than others, the worst eroded areas have been dubbed “hot spots” with emphasis by the new committee to be placed in the short term, on reversing the erosion that has already occurred in these hot spots. In the long term, the committee will also implement measures to protect the complete stretch of beach.
Dr. McNeill said that the meeting had identified three main areas, which had to be addressed to assist in the control of the level of beach erosion. They include regulatory, and engineering matters as well as public education.
A proposal for the $6 million project has been compiled and is to be submitted to the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) for financial assistance, while plans are in place to seek international funding for other aspects of the rehabilitation process. If considered favourably, the implementation process for the initial project proposal should begin within six months.