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OBJECTIONS:
TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT

 

Objection
to the
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
for the Proposed
'HOPE COUNTRY CLUB DEVELOPMENT'

And

Objection
to the
HOPE COUNTRY CLUB DEVELOPMENT’
ST. ANDREW






SUBMITTED BY

Vivian Blake OJ QC
&
John Maxwell CD


A. CHALLENGE TO THE VALIDITY OF THE REPORT
The “ Final report ? Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed Hope Country Club Housing Development, St. Andrew” hereinafter called “the report” submitted by Estech, a division of Conrad Douglas Associates Ltd. of 14 Carvalho Drive , Kingston 10, Jamaica. WI, is hereby challenged by the undersigned as being inadequate, irrelevant and misleading, and constitutes a dangerous basis on which to make any decision concerning any development on the lands at Hope, Sty Andrew, which the objectors consider to be a part of the Hope Botanical Gardens, known more formally as “The Royal Botanical Gardens, Hope.”

B. BASES OF THE CHALLENGE
The report does not adequately or properly address its own stated objective: “The EIA seeks to identify those activities of the project which could have an adverse effect on the environment, and to determine means of avoiding the adverse consequences identified.”

1. Although the project is sited on land historically and legally identified as part of Hope Gardens, the EIA does not treat the lands as part of the Gardens, nor does it properly consider the fact that the whole area is subject to a Development Order,

2. The report does not take into account the several official objections to the proposed scheme, made by, among others, the Natural Resources Conservation Department, The Ministry of Agriculture, the Hope Zoo, the Superintendent of Gardens, and the Government Town Planner.

3. The report does not take into account the absolute prohibition put on the commercial development of the lands in the Hope Estate or in juxtaposition to them, contained in a letter from the then Deputy Prime Minister, now Prime Minister, Rt.Hon P.J.Patterson, QC, PC, MP. in a letter to the Minister of Health, Mr. Easton Douglas in 1991.

4. The report does not consider the traditional and customary uses of the land designated for the housing scheme.

5. The report does not mention the fact that in proposing to change the use of the land, from designated Public Open Space to private housing, the interest of the entire population of Jamaica must be affected, and nowhere in the report is any consideration given to the national loss of amenity, comfort and recreational potential involved in the change of use

6. The report does not consider certain basic requirements of any EIA:

i. Alternative sites for the development
ii. Alternative uses of the land
iii. The necessity for this development in this particular area and on this particular piece of public property

7. The report does not properly consider the effect on public health and public amenity of the proposed use of Hope Botanical Gardens as a reception area for treated sewage effluent from the proposed housing scheme.

8. The report neglects to consider worst case scenarios in relation to
1. A failure of the sewerage plant for any reason including power failure, flood, earthquake or any other of the several natural disasters to which the area is prone.
2. The need for public open space to provide safe areas for public refuge after a natural disaster such as an earthquake, as the Kingston Race Course was used after the 1907 earthquake.

9. The report neglects to consider the question of water supply, depending simply on an assurance from the National Water Commission that it can provide an adequate supply. It is notorious that Hope Gardens has suffered from a lack of an adequate water supply over the years, and the “investigative” team from ESTECH were also informed by the residents of Hope Pastures that their water supply had not been adequate for nearly two decades.

10. Despite the report’s recognising the need for public discussion and input into the EIA process ? the main reason for any EIA anywhere in the world ? the report says that only one meeting was held with one group, residents of Hope Pastures, at the request of the residents, instead of the EIA requirement that such meetings should be called by the EIA team. The EIA team did not call one such meeting, either with the neighbouring communities or with the wider national community whose interests are directly and drastically affected by the proposed new development.

11. The report is obviously deficient in its scientific observations. This is clear from the report of the observed fauna on the site and the fact that there is no serious estimation of earthquake risk on the site, although the reports notes that the area is one of high risk. Scientific reporting in the EIA is so deficient as to be laughable. The report in para 13 of its Executive Summary, says: “The original vegetation of the site was most likely a Wet Limestone/Montane forest …etc.” which is flatly contradicted by a number of scientific authorities, including Professor Alan Eyre, former head of the Geography department at the UWI.

12. The report’s so-called Environmental Impact Matrix is grossly deficient because it omits, forgets or dismisses any consideration of loss of public amenity, or the potential for alternative development or the fact that the area is designated for the expansion of the Zoo. Despite these and other glaring omissions, the Environmental Impact Matrix makes it clear that major negative impacts will outweigh major positive impacts by two to one and minor negatives will outweigh minor positives by three to one.

13. To accept this scheme against this background would be a major error of planning and a devastating blow to sustainable human development.


Such an outcome would deal a death blow to any hope for the sort of cooperation expressly desired in the government’s Green Paper on Parks and Protected Areas:

“Achieving a comprehensive system and realising its potential benefits will depend on the cooperation of all Jamaicans and a partnership among the Government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community groups, and landowners, especially private landowners and government agencies with responsibility for the management of vast areas of land. Many parts of the system are only in the early stages of formation while others are still being planned. It is hoped that this Green Paper will lead to enhanced cooperation and coordination of management among the many participants in proposing, planning and managing protected areas across the country.” Furthermore, as recently as September 28, 1999, the Minister of Environment and Housing wrote to one of us (Maxwell) requesting that he “accept re-appointment to the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Tribunal” despite the fact that the Minister had been advised that the appointment was unwelcome. The Minister appealed for a reconsideration of this decision on the ground that:

“Your knowledge and environmental advocacy are of great national importance to our efforts in pursuing sustainable development for our country”.

It is our opinion that our knowledge and environmental advocacy could be put to no better use at this time than to ensure that the national aim of sustainable development is promoted by the rejection of this misconceived scheme.

It is difficult to see how the government could ask private landowners to cooperate in sustainable development for the good of the country, when the government itself pursues policies which foreclose on the very possibility of sustainable development, derogates the protection of natural resources and public amenity, and extinguishes the possibility of ardently desired national aspirations and imperatives because of expediency and opportunism.

In 1954, the World Bank Report on Jamaica commented that in Jamaica “the absolute ownership of land has meant in practice the absolute right of the owner to ruin the land in his own way.”

Now, nearly 50 years later, we have enacted a great deal of legislation including the laws on which the NRCA Act and the NRCA itself are based, we have signed the Treaty of Rio and a host of other international Acts, Treaties, Conventions and Agreements all of which are aimed at improving the capacity of humanity to sustain itself indefinitely, while improving standards of living and over human welfare and amenity and preserving the environment and heritage for our descendants, for posterity

Areas such as Hope Gardens if adequately protected, tended and developed, can continue to serve Jamaica and its citizens as places of resort for recreation, solitude, reflection , inspiration and peace, as well as becoming centres for scientific excellence, for training and public education, and vital assets in sustainable human development.

To destroy those possibilities would justifiably earn us the condemnation of humanity, and the curses of our children and their children.

We request a hearing before you in order to elaborate on the reasons for our objections. We would also wish to be represented by counsel at this hearing which we hope will be held expeditiously.

We reserve the right to add to or vary the Objections herebefore set forth, in any further proceedings relating to the establishment of the said Housing Scheme.

We take the opportunity to attach, for your information and consideration, our Objection to the declaration of the Hope Country Club Housing Scheme sent to the Minister of Environment & Housing on November 29, 1999..

Yours sincerely



V. O. Blake, OJ QC
Constant Spring
Kingston 8



John Maxwell CD
P.O.Box 762
Constant Spring
Kingston 8


December 24, 1999

The original document was signed by both objectors

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LINKS
Photo of Proposed Site (800x600) |
1966 Survey Map | Objection sent to the Minister of Housing and Development | Rebuttal of Estech's EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) | Objection made to NRCA (Natural Resources Conservation Authority) | Common Sense: Where will the children play? | Common Sense: The battle of Hope Gardens | Common Sense: An offer they couldn't refuse | Common Sense: No mek dem tek it! | Common Sense: Hoping against Hope | Common Sense: Transparency and Hope | News: The Struggle Continues | Press Release from Birdlife of Jamaica | Memo from Mona Heights Citizens' Association | Letter from Stuart Lacy of WildLife Jamaica | Letter from Gloria Escoffery | Letter from Daphne & Peter Abrahams | Satire by 'Cher' | An Opposing Viewpoint from The Gleaner | Protest Letters | The Principals | Add your $0.02