JET concerned about Trelawny hotel development

Well-known lobby group, Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), has written to Prime Minister Andrew Holness requesting that the permits issued to Amaterra Jamaica for the building of hotel rooms in Trelawny be suspended until an updated environmental impact study is in place.

Amaterra has announced a major integrated real-estate development, which will result in the construction of 8,000 hotel rooms in Trelawny.

The group last week broke ground for the first 1,200 rooms of a multi-billion dollar integrated resort development in Stewart Castle. The integrated resort development project will be one of the largest in Jamaica. It will include the construction of 5,000 hotel rooms, an industrial park, an entertainment and shopping complex and various local amenities.

However, JET said that the ground-breaking raises several concerns. It said that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Resort and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the associated Golf Course were conducted over a decade ago in December 2005 and December 2007, respectively.

According to JET, standard operating practice is that the lifespan of an SEA or EIA is five years. Many key aspects of the environment have changed since the Amaterra Resort SEA was conducted.

“The proposed Amaterra site is located within the north coast forest which stretches from the northern portion of Cockpit Country all the way to the coast. Jamaica’s National Ecological Gap Assessment Report (May 2009) identified the North Coast Forest as a priority area for conservation because of its high-quality dry limestone forest and the significant contributions it makes to maintaining the integrity of freshwater and marine resources,” JET said.

It added: “The Amaterra ground-breaking is yet another example of what is becoming a worrying trend in the development approval process in Jamaica. As with the Port Royal Cruise Ship Terminal development in the Palisadoes Port Royal Protected Area, the Amaterra Resort has been announced with much fanfare and celebration, without rigorous assessment of its potential impact on the environment and surrounding communities.”

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