November 22, 2013
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is placing closer attention to monitoring and enforcement activities in Negril, Westmoreland.
Under a new seven million (J$7million) dollars operational project funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the Agency will increase its effort work to mitigate the continued spread of disorderly planning and environmental stresses, that have come to characterize the resort town.
Peter Knight, Chief Executive Officer at NEPA, said that the Agency welcomes the injection of funding from TEF to address the planning and environmental problems in the resort town.
The funds, he noted, will allow the Agency to deploy three additional enforcement officers who will: monitor facilities with environmental permits and licenses issued by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) and enforce regulations under the Wild Life Protection Act.
“The enforcement officers will also enforce the Negril Marine Park Regulations; investigate planning breaches; monitor compliance with planning approvals and monitor environmental incidents which may occur within the Negril Environmental Protection Area,” he said.
The revitalized approach under the TEF Project will commence in November 2013 and continue for 12 months.
Clyde Harrison, Executive Director at TEF said that the Fund is happy to partner with NEPA to address the growing concerns in Negril.
“TEF welcomes the opportunity to work with NEPA to regulate the sensitive and vulnerable aspects of our environment which we have relied on to develop and operate a tourism industry. Without firm and vigilant protection of our marine and land-based resources, our tourism industry will not be sustainable. TEF is happy to demonstrate our support of NEPA's efforts in this way”, Mr Harrison said.
It is expected that under the project the mushrooming unplanned developments will be stymied, further encroachment onto the Great Morass stopped; breaches against the planning, environmental and beach control acts enforced and illegal developments reduced.
Richard Nelson, Manager of the Enforcement Branch at NEPA said that the funding was timely as over the years, the monitoring and enforcement of environmental and planning laws in Negril have been a challenge due to human resource constraints. He noted that the Agency shares monitoring and enforcement responsibility with the Negril Green Island Local Area Planning Authority.
“There has been consistent disregard for the planning and environmental laws, which have resulted in the mushrooming of illegal and unplanned developments,” he said, adding that the encroachment on the Great Morass, breaches under the Beach Control Act and other pressures have placed Negril in an extremely vulnerable position of losing its luster.
The continued degradation of Negril has significant socio-economic and environmental implications. It could lead to the loss of livelihoods and threaten the economic viability of the area.
The CEO noted that given emerging challenges associated with climate change, NEPA is implementing an integrated approach to managing Negril’s natural resources; and that a Strategic Plan is also being developed to streamline future activities in the town.