A member of the Jamaica Institute of Planners, Doreen Prendergast, has supported the move by Government to establish a regulatory body to deal with environmental monitoring, compliance and enforcement.
Ms. Prendergast told JIS News that it is a “timely move” by Government to set up the entity. “If this entity comes into being, I would implore everyone to give their full support, so that the whole monitoring and enforcement aspect can really be given the attention that it deserves, so that the National Environment and Planning Authority (NEPA) can focus on carrying out its spatial planning role,” she said.
She said over the years NEPA had been blamed for all the “ills,” while noting that the lack of resources had prevented the agency from dealing effectively with planning and enforcement issues.
Ms Prendergast was speaking at a public consultation on November 6, at the St. Andrew Parish Church Hall, in Kingston, to discuss the establishment of the proposed unit, the Environmental Regulatory Authority (ERA). Tuesday’s meeting was the fourth public consultation organised by the Public Sector Modernisation Division at the Cabinet Office, Office of the Prime Minister, to hear the views of the public and major stakeholders on the ERA's Green Paper.
The Green Paper outlines a set of reforms that will remove a number of problems associated with the current arrangements for planning and the management of the environment in the country.
So far, consultations have been held at the Cecil Charlton Town Hall and the Mandeville Parish Church Hall in Mandeville, Manchester and the Montego Bay Civic Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, in St. James.
Director of the Environmental Health Unit, Ministry of Health, William Broughton, has also welcomed the establishment of the ERA. “I think the process should be expedited and brought into fruition in the shortest possible time,” he emphasised.
Main presenter and Professor at the University of the West Indies, Anthony Clayton, said it is being proposed to upgrade NEPA into a state-of-the-art National Planning Agency and to transfer NEPA’s responsibility for environmental monitoring and enforcement to this new agency.
Other key recommendations in the Green Paper include the development of a National Spatial Plan and to give NEPA the primary responsibility for developing, maintaining and updating this plan.
Professor Clayton said it is being proposed in the Green Paper that the new ERA concentrate its efforts on serious offenders. “If you try to chase after everybody you dilute your efforts, and you make yourself ineffective everywhere,” he added.
“By prosecuting the worst offenders you are also sending a very powerful signal to everybody in society that bad behaviour will not be tolerated,” the Professor said.