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Gov’t taking steps to address environmental breaches

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, addresses Monday's (March 30) opening of the Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law, at Secrets Resorts in Montego Bay, St. James. (Glenis Rose Photo) Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, addresses Monday's (March 30) opening of the Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law, at Secrets Resorts in Montego Bay, St. James. (Glenis Rose Photo)
MONTEGO BAY, April 1, 2015 - Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, says the Government is strengthening enforcement of environmental laws and has been taking steps to address breaches.

He noted that the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), actively prosecutes offenders through the courts, using the provisions of the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) and the Town and Country Planning Authority (TCPA) Acts.

He informed that over the past eight years, court actions have increased thirty-fold, while the use of cessation orders, notices, stop orders and other environmental instruments have seen a 600 per cent increase in enforcement actions.

“We have had successful prosecutions in the areas of possession of protected animals, pollution of our water bodies such as rivers and harbours, breaches of the Beach Control Act, and operating facilities without the required permit/license,” he pointed out.

“Our courts have not been distant in supporting the rule of environmental law.  Our Supreme Court has not been a distant bystander in guarding the environmental rule of law,” Minister Pickersgill noted.

He was addressing Monday’s (March 30) opening ceremony of the Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law, at the Secrets St. James Resorts in Montego Bay.

Noting that steps have also been taken to encourage stakeholder participation in environmental protection, Minister Pickersgill said since 2003, the NRCA and NEPA, have convened three judicial symposia for members of the judiciary, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), and Clerk of Courts.

“The objective is to sensitise practitioners to the environmental legislation and to discuss strategies to strengthen the environmental rule of law,” the Minister informed.

He noted that consultations with stakeholders have also significantly improved over the past decade, thereby allowing greater access and participation.

Under the NRCA Act, members of the public can now participate in the decision making process prior to finalisation on any environmental permitting decision, Minister Pickersgill said.

He commended the Organization of American States (OAS) for convening the two-day Congress, which promoted development and strengthening of environmental legislation, policies and institutions as foundations of democracy and sustainable development in the Americas.

He committed the support of the Ministry and its agencies to the process of the Environmental Rule of Law.

He argued that lack of environmental law “undermines the achievement of all dimensions of sustainable development and environmental sustainability.”

“It is widely accepted and practiced that the rule of environmental law is a foundation for environmental sustainability. In light of the growing environmental pressures, including our own experiences in Jamaica, action must be taken to stem the violations,” Minister Pickersgill said.

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