NEPA to Pursue and Prosecute Persons in Breach of Development Permits


Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Peter Knight, has issued a strong warning that the Agency will be relentless in pursuing and prosecuting individuals and entities deemed in breach of the terms and conditions of their development permits and licences, or who undertake such activity without the requisite approval.
In the same vein, he is dispelling misconceptions that the Agency has not been taking action against those culpable.
“It is not true. We have recognised (however), that we need to be more proactive, and that we need to be more clinical in the actions that we take,” he emphasised, while addressing a recent media briefing at NEPA’s Cross Roads offices, in Kingston.
Mr. Knight disclosed that some eight Enforcement Orders have been served since the start of the year, a figure which was confirmed by Director of Legal Affairs and Enforcement, Gilroy English, who also spoke at the briefing. Additionally, he said NEPA has served upwards of four Cessation Orders.
Describing the monitoring and enforcement programme as the “face of the Agency on the ground,” Mr. Knight contended that if this becomes more efficient, and in the process, is able to respond in a timely manner in identifying and prosecuting incidents of breaches, “the perception of the Agency will improve.”
NEPA’s monitoring and enforcement programme is responsible for: post-permit monitoring of approved projects; policing the environment to detect breaches; and prosecuting cases in court.
“The Manager responsible for Enforcement has been instructed to communicate to his team, the need to scale up monitoring activities, seek to identify breaches early, and to take strong action against persons found in breach,” the Acting CEO said.
He further disclosed that in moving to strengthen these components, NEPA will be actively pursuing partnerships with other regulatory agencies. These include: the Ministry of Health, Water Resources Authority (WRA), National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC)/parish councils, Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF), and select environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs). These collaborations, he pointed out, “can pay big dividends and lighten the burden of the agency.”
“We recognise that we need to take (stronger) action, and we are sending a warning to all developers, individuals and companies, who think that you are going to get away with breaching the terms and conditions of your licences, or operating without obtaining licences or permits, that they are not going to get away. Once our enforcement team recognises breaches on the ground, they (persons in breach) are going to be prosecuted,” Mr. Knight warned.
In his remarks, Mr. English explained that Jamaica’s environmental laws present two alternatives under which persons or entities in breach of development permits or licences, or who undertake activities without approval, can be prosecuted. These are administrative procedures, which incorporate notices served, and power of legislation, which entails criminal sanctions. The extent of the sanctions, he pointed out, is contingent on the circumstances, which would set the tone for the amount of notice that is given.

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