ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
for the Proposed
'HOPE COUNTRY CLUB DEVELOPMENT'
HOPE COUNTRY CLUB DEVELOPMENT
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,
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
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 reports 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 reports 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 governments 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
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
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
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
V. O. Blake, OJ QC
John Maxwell CD
December 24, 1999
original document was signed by both objectors