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JAMAICA | Opposition party calls for ban on mining in Cockpit Country

Featured People's National Party spokesperson on the environment, Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns People's National Party spokesperson on the environment, Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sep. 25, CMC – The main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has called on the government to immeditely define the boundaries for the Cockpit Country  – Jamaica’s rainforest of approximately 500 square miles.

In a statement on Monday, the party’s spokesperson on the environment, Sophia Frazer-Binns said the Cockpit Country remains one of Jamaica’s most preserved areas with rare flora and fauna, adding that it also has cultural significance as the place where Maroons found refuge during their fight for freedom.

Cockpit country“The use/exploitation of the Cockpit Country will affect our water supply and quality. The municipal and agricultural water supply for much of western and northern Jamaica is dependent on the input of groundwater from Cockpit Country sources. The Government therefore has a duty to protect the health of its people by protecting the Cockpit Country.”

Fraser-Binns made the statement in the wake of reports of plans to mine the area.

“While in government, our administration undertook various studies which guided its decision including the study undertaken by the University of the West Indies. Relying on these studies we were able to agree to the boundaries of the Cockpit Country and at the time of leaving office we were close to its completion. Therefore it is surprising and curious, that after almost two years the government is unable to publicly state the boundaries of the Cockpit Country,” she argued.

She said that there is “absolutely no reason for mining to take place in the Cockpit Country as studies conducted showed that the country has approximately 50 years of bauxite to be mined in other areas if mining continues at the present rate.

“Therefore, there is no basis for a license to be issued for the mining of bauxite within the precincts or the inner boundary of the Cockpit Country”.

Last month, based on the reports, environmental interests launched a petition calling on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to establish the boundary of the Cockpit Country and put an end to mining in the protected area.

On the weekend, it was announced that the petition achieved the required number of 15,000 signatures within 40 days.

The petition also called for the prime minister to “declare Cockpit Country a protected national park and put in place comprehensive measures to ensure its management and conservation for all Jamaicans, including future generations”.

It is the first petition to achieve 15,000 signatures since the launch of the Jamaica House Petition portal in July.

The Cockpit Country, located in the northern parish of Trelawny, has been the subject of controversy for years, with environmental groups accusing several administrations of dragging their feet in protecting the area from mining.

  • Countries: Jamaica