With more resources including financial and legislative support, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) could move faster on its agenda to improve development aims and sustainable environmental management in the island.
The agency has several plans which are yet to be actioned or completed, but which are integral to the national planning process.
In its strategic business plan 2019/20 - 2022/23 projects to be pursued include an updated master plan prepared for sections of four Local Planning Areas by March 2023. These include a section of the Negril Green Island Area â€” "New Negril" in Hanover/Westmoreland; a master plan for the Half-Way-Tree Local Planning Area; a local area plan/master plan for New Kingston Local Planning Area; and a local area plan/master plan for Cross Roads, all in St Andrew.
Other plans and development orders being worked on include a development order for Manchester, Trelawny and Portland to be revised or drafted by March 2023.
NEPA also aims to revise or draft a new Trelawny Parish Development Order; submit a draft St Ann Development Order; draft a new Negril and Green Island Area Development Order; and revise new Portland Parish Development Order.
The agency also intends to complete the Draft National Policy on Sustainable Financing for Wastewater Management which is to be finalised and submitted to the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, followed by finalised amendments to the Wastewater and Sludge Regulations and also complete a review of the Drafting Instructions for the Protected Areas Act and Regulations.
NEPA wants to implement a source emissions reduction strategy for the East Kingston/Rockfort Area. It also aims to develop a recreational and coastal water quality monitoring programme (to include data collection and analysis, and a tracking mechanism) to the point of implementation.
It is also aiming to implement a recreational and coastal water quality monitoring programme for Discovery Bay, St Ann (to include data collection and analysis, and a tracking mechanism).
On its agenda as well is a conservation and restoration programme for coral reef and wetland (mangrove) conservation and restoration programme by March 2023.
NEPA plans to develop coral reef and wetland (mangrove) conservation and protection programmes and also wants to undertake a trend analysis of 25 coral reef sites and establish a coral nursery in a Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Protected Area.
Additionally, it aims to establish protected status for designated wetland areas and under the Watershed Area Management Mechanism (WAMM), implement select programmes for some watershed management units by March 2023.
NEPA is also pursuing a rapid ecological assessment (REA) in the White River, on the border of St Ann and St Mary, which includes a sustainable livelihoods and farmer school programme; and a similar project in Swift River in Portland.
By 2023 the agency also wants to develop a management plan for the proposed Black River Protected Area in St Elizabeth, including the implementation of a conservation and restoration programme.
NEPA is additionally aiming to prepare a final Great Goat Island Management Plan, and later, to implement components of the Great Goat Island Management Plan for the islands off the coast of St Catherine.
The agency is also working on a Management Plan for Pedro Cays and Surrounding Waters Management Plan for Pedro Cays which is to be revised and finalised by March 2023.
The environment agency is also pursuing a national programme to improve the protection, restoration and report on the protection of Jamaican iguana.