Study to assess sand quarrying effect
MINISTER of Mining and Energy, Robert Pickersgill, and a representative of the British Geological Survey, David Harrison, recently signed a memorandum of understanding to carry out a study to determine, among other things, the environmental impact of sand quarrying on the island’s major rivers and associated structures.
The study, to be funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), will generate information that will aid in the formulation of appropriate policies to effectively manage and regulate the island’s sand/gravel quarries. The information generated will also inform land-use planners and help curtail environmental degradation.
The study will determine the impact of quarrying on farmland, the sustainability of rivers, the risk to civil structures such as roads, bridges and water supplies, the impact on ecology and flooding and the socio-economic impact of sand/gravel quarries on local communities and land development.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mining and Energy, Godfrey Perkins, said as part of the project ‘sediment budgets’ would be established for the Rio Minho River in Clarendon and the Yallahs River in St Thomas, “so that we might be more environmentally responsible in the award of licences for the extraction of sand from these rivers.” The rivers are the two main sand-producing rivers in the island.
Pickersgill expressed the hope that the study would achieve its goals stating that the ministry was anxious to get quarry operations under increased control.
“To that end we have been in touch with quarry operators and whenever we issue licences we explain to them what their responsibilities are and what we expect from them, because as they exploit the natural resources we have to protect the environment,” he stated.
Harrison said the findings of the study would be used to inform other sand quarrying operations in developing countries all over the world including India, Kenya, Costa Rica and Sri Lanka. The file study is slated to start in June and the project will end in 2004.