Jamaica: Court Rules Against Environmental Watchdog
An environmental group in Jamaica won a court victory against the government’s environmental watchdog agency over the approval of an expansion of a major roadway that would have cut through the Palisades-Port Royal wetlands, which are protected under the Ramsar Convention.
The Supreme Court ruled in late November in favor of the Jamaica Environment Trust, or JET, a non-profit that had asked for a judicial review of the National Environment and Planning Agency’s granting permission to create the four-lane highway for the project.
“We were happy with the judgment overall,” said JET’s chief executive, Diana McCaulay in a statement. “We thought it was thorough and considered the many factors. We now understand that we have to do some work in getting a full description of what constitutes a beach in the relevant legislation.”
The group said the project would have put 300 plant and animal species at risk if it cut through the wetlands, home to 13,000 hectares (33,000 acres) of mangroves and coral reefs, and would have meant the destruction of centuries-old sand dunes, threatening the support structure of the area that connects Kingston to Port Royal at risk.
JET told the court that the project breached the law by failing to consult the local population and provide all of the environmental information to Jamaican citizens before approving the project.
The National Environment and Planning Agency said it would appeal the ruling.