It has been brought to my attention that while I was off the island, there were a number of broadcasts and publications in the media with respect to the consideration of undertaking a development on the Goat Islands.
The concerns have been specifically related to the protection and conservation of the environment, and to ensure that if development were to take place, it would be sustainable.
As Minister with responsibility for the Environment, I am seized with the fact as to how critical it is for a Small Island State such as ours, to be absolutely certain that we protect and conserve the environment.
I wish the public to be advised that the Goat Islands fall under the St. Catherine Coast Development Order and the Town and Country Planning (Clarendon) Development Order. It is also covered under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act 1991, and several other policies, legislation and regulations.
Regardless of who is the proponent, whether the Government of Jamaica or a private investor that desires to carry out development, there is a universally established standard process, necessitating objective analyses and assessments, which involve reviews by a number of Government of Jamaica regulatory agencies and the relevant Parish Council. Above all, there must be public stakeholder consultations with the population that may be impacted, whether negatively or positively, before a decision is taken.
I have noted expressions of concern from environmental lobbyists and other stakeholders. These concerns will be further taken into account during the public consultation process.
Robert D. Pickersgill, M.P.