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What has been deemed shady sand-mining activities connected to major hotel developments in Negril and elsewhere on the north coast have outraged the Negril Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber called for the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Commissioner of Mines and the Jamaica Constabulary Force to explain in full the sand-mining operations and or investigate quickly and impartially the developments.
“It was brought to our attention by multiple persons that sand is being mined in the Negril area, and [has been] moved by several trucks in the dead of night to a major hotel development in recent days. We are further told that the sand is stockpiled at the development in question for movement to another property on the north coast,” the Negril Chamber of Commerce said in a statement on Jan 13, 2015.
In fact, the chamber expressed “serious concern about NEPA’s and the commissioner of mines’ true role in the sand-mining operations, noting that it may very well have to escalate its concerns to other critical local and international stakeholders.”
The statement noted: “We are alarmed about sand being mined in Negril, when the place suffers from beach erosion [and] the only solution the authorities seem to want is hard engineering structures that the majority of the community are against,” the statement noted.
“We are also upset that this site has been granted approval to build with a set back of only 90 feet from the high-tide mark, when the norm is 150 feet from the high-tide mark. The new development orders passed for Negril kept this standard, with the loophole that states that under special circumstances this can be changed. These special circumstances have yet to be defined by NEPA.”
In its statement, the Chamber said it had already voiced its concerns on this matter to NEPA, and that it was not in keeping with sustainable development and rising sea levels due to climate change.
Efforts to contact NEPA on the matter proved unsuccessful, with both calls and email to Chief Executive Officer Peter Knight going unanswered.