SOCIETIES' need for improvement is a sure guarantee that humans will continue to engage in debate over development versus the preservation of the environment.
We've had many such discussions here in Jamaica, over many decades, most of them heated, as positions are hardened on both sides.
Only time will tell if our governments have made the correct decisions in cases where they have gone ahead with projects against the advice and protestations of environmentalists.
What is sure, though, is that both sides have the country's interest at heart — one seeing the creation of jobs and infrastructural modernisation; the other focussed on protecting our natural heritage and preventing possible damage from nature's fury, especially given our small size and our vulnerability to tropical storms and hurricanes.
Very rarely do both sides agree, so there is always tension between them and, quite frankly, mistrust and frustration.
The latest chapter in this ongoing story is the Government's announcement that it is considering a proposal from Chinese investors to develop a trans-shipment port at Goat Islands, off Jamaica's south coast.
The initial announcement came, most unfortunately, from the environment minister, Mr Robert Pickersgill, while on an official visit to China last week with the prime minister.
Basically, the Chinese project would include a logistics and industrial park on Goat Islands.
According to Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Mr Anthony Hylton, this investment would represent one component of the Administration's Logistics Hub Initiative, which includes other ports, airports and special economic zones.
The problem, though, is that the Goat Islands are protected by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act 1991, and are also covered by the St Catherine Coast Development Order and the Town and Country Planning (Clarendon) Development Order.
Both orders require protection and conservation of the natural environment in cases where development is deemed necessary for the areas covered by the orders.
The development orders also state that decisions must be made in a transparent and accountable manner, and there, we believe, is where the Government has a problem.
For, before the trip to China, the information released to the country about the logistics hub spoke of development at Cow Bay in St Thomas, and Fort Augusta and the Caymanas lands in St Catherine.
It appears now that the Government, in an effort to quench its thirst for cash, went ahead and opened the door to Goat Islands to the Chinese without consultation.
We fully well appreciate the validity of the arguments for and against this proposal. That is why we are suggesting that individuals on both sides meet, as soon as possible, and discuss this issue in a rational manner.
They will find that much can be achieved from that approach.