JET calls on PM to respond to the Cockpit Country petition

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JET calls on PM to respond to the Cockpit Country petition

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) has expressed concern over the lack of response from Prime Minister Andrew Holness on its petition requesting that the Cockpit Country be closed to mining and quarrying.

The petition was posted on the new “Petition Jamaica House” section of the Office of the Prime Minister's website, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) and garnered more than the 20,000 signatures stipulated by the OPM.

However, Holness has not yet provided a response despite a promise on September 25 to do so within 30 days.

“While we understand the distractions presented by holding three by-elections, it is important that promises made by our political leaders are kept,” said JET's CEO, Diana McCaulay in a release today.

“When commitments are not met, trust in our government is eroded and we already suffer from a significant trust deficit.”

JET noted that with the help of a great many stakeholders from Cockpit Country communities, including Maroon communities, Windsor Research Centre and the media, signatures were also sought on hard copy petitions.

The organisation explained that it wrote to the prime minister on September 27 and requested an opportunity to deliver the hard copy petitions with a small delegation of people from Cockpit Country, but there has been no response to that request either.

“The hard copy petitions contain another 15,141 signatures, making an overall total of 35,999 signatures,” it added.

JET said the importance of Cockpit Country to Jamaica's future is indisputable and the GOJ's own boundary study in 2013 recommended the following: “The Government of Jamaica should not authorise any form of exploration of mineral deposits, mining and quarrying activity within the Cockpit Country as the level of emotion is too high and the level of opposition and resistance by community members and leaders, community-based organisations, non-governmental and civil society organisations, some governmental agencies and members of the academic community may not provide enough guarantee and confidence for potential investors.”

According to JET, the study also concluded that “The Cockpit Country should be legally protected because it plays a critical role in sustaining water security in Jamaica.”

Given the projections of reduced rainfall and more severe droughts due to global climate change, JET said its position is that allowing mining or quarrying in Cockpit Country would be the height of recklessness.

“There has been unconscionable delay on this matter, across both administrations and going back to 2006,” said McCaulay, adding: “It is long past time for a decision to be taken.”

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