Outline the EIA process in Jamaica and compare the guidelines of NEPA and NRCA. Highlight 4 high profile development cases in Jamaica using a case study approach.
Ms. H. Smith
University of Technology, Jamaica
Monday November 12, 2012
Introduction & Background
The interaction of mankind with natural environmental systems has resulted in disruptions and changes that affect their normal progression. The possible effect of these changes on environmental quality and livelihoods in human settlements has lead to the need to manage this interaction between mankind and the environment. Within the limited land space and often fragile ecosystems of small developing islands such as Jamaica, the need to reduce poverty and all its ramifications has increased the imperative for developments, and therefore the challenge to harmonise developments with environmental management principles is often colossal. Diverse processes and tools such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has evolved to assist in this environmental management, which itself has undergone evolutionary changes as more data have become available on natural systems and human development.
The Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) in July1997 established the first set of guidelines for the conducting of EIAs in Jamaica, as a means of assisting developers and environmental consultants to understand the NRCA requirements for EIAs. This was a follow up of the introduction of the Permit and Licence System in January 1997, which spoke to the new requirements for the conduct of EIAs for specific type of developments. In 2001, there was the inauguration of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) which was a result of merging the NRCA, the Town Planning Department (TPD) and the Land Development and Utilisation Commission (LDUC). NEPA, as the new regulatory agency has undertaken a review of the existing EIA Guidelines in an effort to update the document, to incorporate emerging global issues, and natural hazard impacts as well as to create a more user friendly and practical set of guidelines for developers and consultants.
Findings & Analysis
In accordance to the National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA), an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) involves the process of identifying, predicting and evaluating potential environmental impacts of development proposals. The term describes a technique and a process by which information about the interaction between a proposed development project and the environment is collected, analysed, and interpreted to produce a report on potential impacts and to provide the basis for sound decision-making. The results of the study are taken into account by the Regulatory Authority in the determination of whether the proposed development should be allowed, and under what conditions.
When applying for a permit or licence for a development, an EIA may be required, which is determined by the screening of the application and the conducting of relevant site visits. Sections 9 & 10 of the NRCA Act (1991) gave the authority the power to request that an environmental impact assessment be conducted as part of a permit application. The act also gave the authority the power to request that the applicant furnish documents or other information as it thinks fit. The criteria for requesting this information may include emergency, the level of technology employed in the operation of the project, and the likely adverse impacts to be expected from the project.
The purpose of the EIA is to aid in decision making, help in the formulation of development actions, promote sustainable development, meet legislative requirements, and assist countries in conforming with international environmental standards. With this in mind, the EIA...