KINGSTON, Jamaica, March 3, 2022 - The People’s National Party says it is outraged by revelations from Minister with Responsibility for Mining Audley Shaw, that he intends to grant a permit to Bengal Development Limited to carry out mining activities in the ecologically sensitive Dry Harbour Mountains, despite the national outcry from citizens and environmentalists.
In a statement today, Opposition Spokesperson on Land, Environment and Climate Change, Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns, says The Dry Harbour Mountain is home to some of Jamaica’s most endangered species and is important to our water supply. Mining in the Dry Harbour Mountains will pose a major threat to some of the island’s essential flora and fauna populations and will counter efforts to protect our biodiversity and endangered species.
The Opposition believes that this dangerous decision for short term gain will destroy the protected habitat of some of Jamaica’s most endangered species and put them at risk of extinction. Senator Frazer-Binns, says the Dry Harbour Mountains must be protected from all damaging activities. She noted that the Minister’s intention, if acted upon, would be “a slap in the face of our people and ironically comes as the world is today marking World Wildlife Day”.
The Opposition Senator chided the National Environment and Planning Agency(NEPA) for supporting the Government’s decisions to allow the destruction of the country’s natural resources. “NEPA is yet to provide a detailed explanation of its decision to grant a third extension to Bengal for the payment of its environmental bond, after missing previous deadlines. The irresponsible action by Minister Shaw and the inaction of NEPA are examples of the Government showing little regard for the protection and preservation of the environment”, said Senator Frazer-Binns.
Senator Frazer-Binns expressed that the Government is duty-bound to ensure that all citizens “enjoy a healthy and productive environment free from the threat of injury or damage from environmental abuse and degradation of ecological heritage,” as outlined in the Jamaican Constitution.
If this permit is granted, the irreparable damage to the environment and in particular our critical watershed areas will be felt for decades and by generations to come. “The Government must change course and put the country first, show its commitment to protecting the environment and refuse to grant this mining permit to Bengal”, Senator Frazer-Binns said .