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OBJECTIONS:
TO THE MINISTER OF HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT

 

Objection to proposed
‘Hope Country Club Housing Scheme’
on the lands of the Hope Gardens Estate under the provisions of the Housing Act.




From
Vivian Osmond Scott Blake, QC, OJ,
Barrister at Law
former Chief Justice of the Bahamas,

&
John Maxwell, CD
Journalist,
former Chairman of the Natural Resources Conservation Authority,
Member of the Appeals Tribunal under the NRCA Act.


To the Minister of Housing and Environment,
Hon. Easton Douglas, MP,

WE, the undersigned, wish to register the strongest possible OBJECTION to the proposed development of the HOPE COUNTRY CLUB HOUSING SCHEME in the Public Open Space known as the Hope Gardens Estate as outlined in the Housing Scheme (Part of Hope Estate in the Parish of St Andrew) Intention of Approval Notice published by the Minister in the Daily Gleaner of November 8, 1999. Our main objections are as follows:

1. That a housing scheme on the lands designated by the Minister is illegal, contrary to public policy, and an unwarranted infringement of the rights of public outlined in the Kingston and St. Andrew Development order, 1966 declaring the Hope gardens Estate from thenceforth, Public Open Space..


2. That the declaration of a Housing Scheme on any part of the Public Open Space defined in the Kingston and St. Andrew Development Order 1966 by the Minister constitutes an abuse of his powers under the Housing Act and exceeds his jurisdiction. Further,

2A. The proposal to construct housing on the said estate is in direct contravention of the decision taken by the government in 1991 and communicated directly to you, Mr Easton Douglas, (then Minister of Health) in a letter from the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Planning, the Rt. Hon. P. J. Patterson, MP, QC, PC, now Prime Minister of Jamaica.

2B.
The proposed scheme is in flagrant breach of Jamaica’s obligations under the Treaty of Rio (Agenda 21) of 1992, and of various Declarations and Conventions under that Treaty, signed by the Prime Minister, Mr Patterson and witnessed by Mr Douglas at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on or about June 14, 1992, and in particular, in contravention of three of the first four Principles of the Rio Declaration:
“1. Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
“3. The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.
“4. In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.

2C.
That the proposed housing scheme is in direct and flagrant contradiction to the solemn pledges made by the Peoples National Party, now forming the Government of Jamaica, in its pre-election Manifesto of 1997 in which the party solemnly proclaimed: “Protecting and conserving our island’s resources is an imperative, if we are to preserve its natural features and beauty.
Man is dependent on the integrity of the environment and there is a sacred obligation to protect God’s earth and to preserve the quality of life for future generations. The PNP believes that orderly development can and must co-exist with a healthy respect for the natural resources that sustain development. [PNP Manifesto, 1977, p .49] And the proposed housing scheme contravenes the following specific commitments and undertakings set out in the said Manifesto
“… During our third term we will:
• Undertake a comprehensive programme to clean up the physical environment and to protect our beaches, watersheds, reefs and other sensitive ecosystems;
• revitalise our national parks and gardens and establish additional national and marine parks ? Manifesto p 49
The public, in electing the Government, had reasonable expectations that the said pledges and commitments, particularly those relating to the revitalising of our national parks and gardens would be honoured, and as citizens, we now have an inherent right, as a matter of natural justice to prevent these expectations from being disappointed and/or destroyed by the proposed Hope Country Club on the lands of the Hope Gardens Estate.

2D. In the Manifesto the party further undertook
“Our Pledge …
•to protect and safeguard our environmental heritage, thereby protecting our fragile ecology for the benefit of future generations. [Manifesto p.71] This pledge was entirely consistent with the Party’s claim that as government it fully recognised its responsibilities to promote orderly development and, had “… therefore pursued a collaborative national effort with the private sector and individual communities, to rescue areas of the environment that are under siege. ” [Manifesto p. 49]

We believe that in a democratic society ruled by law, every citizen has the right to expect the Government to honour its obligations and the treaties it has signed; and to respect and not repudiate the pledges and promises it has made to the people. We believe that every citizen has the right to demand that the government and its ministers will defend the public interest and not seek, by subterfuge, misrepresentation or neglect, to undermine the public trust and to subvert the public interest as appears to be the case in the instant matter.


For all of the foregoing reasons, it is our contention that the enterprise known as the Hope Country Club cannot be in the public interest and must be in contradiction to every pledge the Government, its Ministers and you as Minister of Housing and Environment in particular have made to safeguard the environment and national heritage.

We believe that the scheme should be abandoned, that the Hope Gardens Estate should be protected from any future depredations from any source as an essential component of the Jamaican environment, so that Hope Gardens may serve its intended purpose, whether this purpose may have been forgotten or submerged over the years by official neglect, public ignorance or economic exigencies from time to time.

The Jamaican people cannot afford to surrender one inch of the Public Open Space at the Hope Gardens Estate or anywhere else, and we should, as the PNP manifesto states, “seek to extend and revitalise our national parks and open spaces” for the preservation of the mental health and spiritual wellbeing of our people and the environmental quality and beauty of our island.

We agree with the PNP’s manifesto that “Man is dependent on the integrity of the environment and there is a sacred obligation to protect God’s earth and to preserve the quality of life for future generations”. As the Manifesto forthrightly declares: “The new millennium is the time to reaffirm our responsibility to protect and enhance our environment, so that the country we hand over to future generations, will be a better place to live in.” That time is now. It is also time to fulfil our “sacred obligation to protect God’s earth and to preserve the quality of life for future generations”.

The time is now, especially as it is clear that Hope Gardens is, as the Manifesto puts it, under siege.

We therefore call on you as Minister responsible for the Environment, to refuse approval for this scheme and to take steps to enshrine and consolidate, now and for all time, the protection of the environmental and physical integrity of the Hope Gardens Estate and of all Jamaica’s Public Open Space.

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.

Yours Sincerely,



Vivian O. Blake
Constant Spring,
Kingston 8



John Maxwell
PO. Box 762, Constant Spring
Kingston 8


November 27, 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