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NEPA secures 6 convictions for breaches of Beach Control Act

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has secured six convictions totalling $900,000 in fines through the courts in its drive to clamp down on breaches of Jamaica's environmental and planning laws.

The prosecutions stem from charges brought against businessmen Nohaud Azan and Gobind Purshotamdas and development company, Silhouette Bay Limited, in the St James Parish Court on Wednesday.

Azan, Silhouette Bay Limited and Gobind Purshotamdas Mahtani were charged with encroaching on the foreshore and floor of the sea without the requisite beach licence. The encroachments are: construction of a groyne and four pylons; construction of a groyne and 10 pylons, and 10 sandbags and eight pylons, respectively.

The defendants pleaded guilty and were fined $150,000 for each breach by Parish Judge Sandria Wong-Small.

In-house attorney-at-law Stewart Panton represented NEPA during the matter. Panton said breaches of the Beach Control Act will not be ignored by the agency, especially with the ever-increasing impact of climate change.

The attorney urged individuals or companies who may be seeking to build along the shoreline to seek the requisite approvals prior to construction.

Under the Beach Control Act, all encroachments on the foreshore and floor of the sea require a beach licence.

Those who contravene this provision are liable on conviction before a parish judge to a maximum fine of $500,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months, or both.

NEPA Director of Legal and Enforcement Morjorn Wallock is encouraging people who are currently in breach to visit the agency's Development Assistance Centre or the Application Secretariat Branch for assistance with becoming compliant and avoid prosecution.