Mr Speaker, you will recall that when I last addressed this Honourable House on September 10th of this year, I indicated that China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) had submitted an investment proposal to the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) for the development of a transshipment port and an industrial and commercial economic zone. CHEC’s preferred site for this investment was the Goat Islands and the lands to the North of the islands on the mainland in the Old Harbour Bay area.
The preliminary value placed on the investment is US $1.5 Billion, and represents a key milestone that would have significant positive impacts on the country’s developmental agenda. In summary, Mr Speaker, this investment would be a concrete manifestation of Jamaica becoming a logistics hub for this region.
Mr Speaker, you will recall that I addressed the concerns which had been raised publicly regarding the potential environmental risks to the Goat Islands and greater Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA). I indicated then that the Administration and the Port Authority were giving consideration to the issues raised and would be engaging stakeholders accordingly.
I further indicated that the Port Authority was instructed to continue its assessment and monitoring of the proposed project area, to undertake detailed environmental and feasibility studies, and to offer effective guidance to the Chinese investors about the required development processes. The Port Authority was given their instructions by Cabinet because the environmental sensitivities of the preferred site identified by China Harbour had resulted in adverse reactions from some quarters.
Consequently, the Port Authority commissioned an Environmental Management Scoping Study to identify the legal and regulatory environment, the natural heritage resources, the industrial and commercial interest and the principal bio-physical and socio-cultural characteristics of the Portland Bight Protected Area.
The specific objectives of the study included:
•Determining the geographic boundaries of the Portland Bight Protected Area
•Conducting archival research on the historical use of the area
•Identifying applicable international and national environmental policies, legislation, regulations and standards for the area
•Identifying the biologically sensitive features of the marine and terrestrial environment
•Determining the location of rare, threatened and endangered species and their spatial distribution in the Portland Bight and Ridge Area and the Goat Islands.
2. Mr Speaker, let us be clear that this “Scoping Study” is not an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). It is a preliminary study which provides us with information on the present situation in the area of interest and will be a useful guide in determining the appropriate issues to be addressed in an Environmental Impact Assessment.
3. The firm selected by the Port Authority to conduct the Scoping Study is Conrad Douglas and Associates. The firm has more than 25 years’ experience in various aspects of project development, environmental engineering and environmental management. Importantly, it has a distinguished record both locally and internationally. More specifically the firm has carried out several detailed analyses of the Portland Bight Area.
4. Mr Speaker, the Environmental Management Scoping Study is now before us and I am pleased to share the major findings with this Honourable House…READ MORE