NEPA refuses permit for more companies in mining and construction industries
Dura Concrete Limited, a Kingston-based company that had plans to build and operate a construction aggregate business at Lot 29A Drax Hall North, St Ann, will have to find a new location after it was denied a permit from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
The company, which submitted an application to NEPA in September 2023 to operate batching and crushing plants for the production of aggregates, including construction and industrial materials, was refused a permit for three reasons.
The first was on the grounds that the proposed site is located in close proximity to residential communities namely the Mammee Bay and Drax Hall communities.
“As such the minimum requirement of a buffer distance of 200 metres from the sensitive receptors in the area to minimise the likelihood of dusting impacts/nuisance will not be achieved,” the NEPA board said in its December 2023 decision.
NEPA said the refusal was also based on the proposed location of the concrete batching plant being in an area zoned for residential/resort use in the Town and Country Planning (St Ann Parish) Confirmed Development Order 2000 and residential/resort in the Town and Country Planning (St Ann Parish) Draft Order 2019. Additionally, it said the proposed transport of aggregate materials through the communities will impact the surrounding residents.
Dura Concrete’s application is one of four permits that were denied by NEPA’s board for December, three of which were operations in the mining and construction industries.
NEPA also refused Symcath Limited’s permit for the construction and operation of facilities for the production of construction materials including blocks and bricks at Salt Spring, Green Island, Hanover; and it also sent Ready Sand and Gravel Limited on the hunt for another location upon denial of its application for mining and quarrying of bauxite, peat, sand, minerals — including aggregate, construction and industrial materials, metallic and non-metallic ores at Alligator Pond District, Manchester.
In the latter case, NEPA reasoned that the activity would increase coastal erosion concerns on the island and as such, could not approve the application.
“Sand dunes deposited within the coastal systems of this locality contribute to the coast’s natural ability to buffer against sea surges and erosion during storm events. Additionally, the coastline exists in a state of dynamic equilibrium, with accretion processes balancing the coastal erosional processes,” NEPA said in making its determination.
It added that had the development been approved, anthropogenic pressures — including overexploitation of natural resources from the proposed activity — could potentially lead to environmental degradation as well as negative impacts on the coastal communities.
In further defending its decision, NEPA said the wider Alligator Pond area has been identified as extremely vulnerable, particularly with respect to recession of the shoreline, and is the subject of an ongoing assessment towards mitigative action, which is supported by the Government of Jamaica and the World Bank.
“Therefore, the proposed activity, if approved, will be counter-intuitive to any proposed restoration/mitigation activities to be in the area,” it said.
The decisions were taken despite the goods producing industry being one of the main contributors to growth in the Jamaican economy.
Updated data released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (station) last week states that during the third quarter of 2023, that is July to September 2023, the Jamaican economy grew by 2.1 per cent when compared to the third quarter of 2022. The performance was led by growth in both the services and goods producing industries.
Statin said that growth in the goods producing industries was influenced by higher output levels in mining and quarrying, up 103.1 per cent; manufacturing, up 2.1 per cent and construction, up 0.7 per cent.